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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Chip using body heat

Slashdot It! Researchers at MIT and Texas Instruments have designed a new chip for portable electronics that could be up to 10 times more energy-efficient than present technology. Given its reduced power consumption, the new chip could lead to cell phones, handheld computers, and remote sensors that last far longer when running from a battery. Indeed, the power required could be so low that implantable medical devices such as pacemakers and health monitors could be powered indefinitely by a person's body heat or motion—no battery needed. According to Anantha Chandrakasan, the Joseph F. and Nancy P. Keithley Professor of Electrical Engineering, the key to the improvement in energy efficiency was finding ways to make the circuits on the chip work at a voltage level much lower than usual. While most current chips operate at around 1.0 volt, the new design works at just 0.3 volts. Reducing the operating voltage, however, is not as simple as it might sound, because existing microchips have been optimized for many years to operate at the higher standard-voltage level. "Memory and logic circuits have to be redesigned to operate at very low power supply voltages," says Chandrakasan, who directs the MIT Microsystems Technology Laboratories, where the work was conducted. In order to extract the maximum amount of energy, whether from a battery or from ambient energy sources, the team also optimized the energy processing circuitry. The energy processor must not only provide the desired voltage to the electronic circuitry but also account for the characteristics of the energy source, variations in circuit demands, and environmental conditions. This ability to optimize the overall system energy and minimize losses helps to dramatically reduce the energy requirements of a wide range of portable electronic devices. Via MIT Get Daily Updates via Email Protect your computer with Windows Onecare Get paid $7.50 for reviewing my post Ad Space

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