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Smart power unit with ultra low power radio trigger capabilities for wireless sensor networks

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6 Author(s)

This paper presents the design, implementation and characterization of an energy-efficient smart power unit for a wireless sensor network with a versatile nano-Watt wake up radio receiver. A novel Smart Power Unit has been developed featuring multi-source energy harvesting, multi-storage adaptive recharging, electrochemical fuel cell integration, radio wake-up capability and embedded intelligence. An ultra low power on board microcontroller performs maximum power point tracking (MPPT) and optimized charging of supercapacitor or Li-Ion battery at the maximum efficiency. The power unit can communicate with the supplied node via serial interface (I2C or SPI) to provide status of resources or dynamically adapt its operational parameters. The architecture is very flexible: it can host different types of harvesters (solar, wind, vibration, etc.). Also, it can be configured and controlled by using the wake-up radio to enable the design of very efficient power management techniques on the power unit or on the supplied node. Experimental results on the developed prototype demonstrate ultra-low power consumption of the power unit using the wake-up radio. In addition, the power transfer efficiency of the multi-harvester and fuel cell matches the state-of-the-art for Wireless Sensor Networks.

Published in:

2012 Design, Automation & Test in Europe Conference & Exhibition (DATE)

Date of Conference:

12-16 March 2012