Researchers at the University of Bristol have developed an ultra-low power switch that operates from a few picowatts. This would allow sensors in the Internet of Things (IoT) and consumer equipment to save power by cutting the standby power to practically zero.

“The ultra-low power UB20M voltage detector provides sensing that is continuous and free”

 

The voltage detector chip uses just five picojoules of energy and requires only around half a volt to operate, which means it can be triggered directly by a sensor such as a photodetector.

The team has modified a TV set using the switch for standby. There is no continuous draw of power during standby until the chip is triggered directly from the infrared signal of a standard TV controller.

“The ultra-low power UB20M voltage detector provides sensing that is continuous and free,” said Dr Stark, Reader in Electrical & Electronic Engineering in the Department of Electrical & Electronic Engineering.

“This is because it is able to respond to minute quantities of power from unpowered sensors. No battery or other power is needed for the device to stay alive and listening, and battery maintenance is therefore reduced or not needed.  We are now actively seeking commercial partners to use the voltage detector chip in their product, and would welcome companies to get in touch.”

You can see more about technology research at University of Bristol here 

Nick Flaherty