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Radio Chip For the "internet of Things"

By MIT News

February 23, 2015

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Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers have developed a new wireless transmitter design that reduces off-state leakage 100-fold while providing adequate power for Bluetooth transmission, or for the longer-range 802.15.4 wireless-communication protocol.

The technology could extend the life of batteries and hasten the development of the Internet of Things.

"A key challenge is designing these circuits with extremely low standby power, because most of these devices are just sitting idling, waiting for some event to trigger a communication," says MIT professor Anantha Chandrakasan. "When it's on, you want to be as efficient as possible, and when it's off, you want to really cut off the off-state power, the leakage power."

The new transmitter reduces the leakage by applying a negative charge to the gate when the transmitter is idle, driving electrons away from the electrical leads and making the semiconductor a much better insulator.

During testing, the researchers found the new circuit spent only 20 picowatts of power to save 10,000 picowatts in leakage. The MIT researchers say the new circuit can reduce power consumption 100-fold.

"Ultralow-leakage energy is critical for future sensor nodes that need the transmitter to be on only a very small percentage of time," says Texas Instruments director Baher Haroun.

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