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Engineers Invent A Microchip That Self-Starts When Battery Runs Out

This new technology can enable smaller and cheaper Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

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A massive amount of devices nowadays are built with the Internet of Things (IoT). These devices play a role in improving specific systems that may need long-term data. The main challenge of this, however, is that these devices would need good power efficiency in order to be useful. This is highly required for devices that are used in remote areas, where changing batteries is not usually an option. That’s why a team of engineers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) has created a microchip that self-starts when their battery runs out.


The microchip, called BATLESS, enables devices to run even after the battery runs out of juice. The technology was created using a power management system that allows the device to continue its functions under dim lighting even without the help of batteries. This allows future devices to be build with smaller batteries which also makes them significantly smaller in size, making them more cost-efficient to produce. This is attained through the use of a tiny on-chip solar cell which is enough to keep the basic features of the chip functional. It was presented during the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) 2018 held in San Francisco, where people got first sight of the breakthrough in solid-state circuitry.

Associate Professor Massimo Alioto. Source: Tech Explorist

According to Associate Professor Massimo Alioto from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the NUS Faculty of Engineering, this new way of powering small devices has demonstrated that batteries for IoT devices can be significantly shrunk down.

“BATLESS is the first example of a new class of chips that are indifferent to battery charge availability. In minimum-power mode, it uses 1,000 to 100,000 times less power, compared to the best existing microcontrollers designed for fixed minimum-energy operation. At the same time, our 16-bit microcontroller can also operate 100,000 times faster than others that have been recently designed for fixed minimum-power operation. In short, the BATLESS microchip covers a very wide range of possible energy, power, and speed trade-offs, as allowed by the flexibility offered through the two different modes,” Alioto added.

This new technology’s goal is to create a chip which will demand smaller and smaller batteries, up to the point where it no longer needs one to operate.

Article Sources:

Innovation Toronto

Science Daily

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Cielo Santos

Engineer. Writer. Artist. Gamer. Musician. She dreams of building a time machine and help kittens take over the world. Is secretly the pink power ranger in real life.


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