General interest articles

PsiKick is a two-year-old startup coming out of research efforts at the Universities of Michigan, Virginia, and Washington that is preparing a wireless sensor module for batteryless operation based on sub-threshold circuitry. The module includes an RF transceiver, a microcontroller with sensor front end, and energy-harvesting blocks, making it a self-powered sensor platform suitable for a wide array of applications. A second-generation version of the design, based on standard CMOS processing, entered tape-out earlier this year, so a demonstrable product is likely by year’s end.
The power requirements for this module are astoundingly small, some 100 to 1000 times less than that of comparable sensor platforms currently available. In full operating mode the processor only uses 400 nanowatts while the RF transmitter generates 10 microwatts for an effective range of 10 meters. The module’s supply voltage can be anywhere from 0.25 to 1.2 V, making it a good match to the output capabilities of most energy harvesting methods.


SoC Specifications

Fully Integrated Wireless SoC
Tx Data 1 Mbps
Tx Power 10 Microwatts
Tx Range 10 Meters
Supply Voltage 0.25 V to 1.2 V
Off-Mode Current ~1 nano-Amp
Rx Sensitivity -86 dBm / -45 dBm
RX Power 150 Microwatts / 100 Nanowatts
CPU Mode Power 400 Nanowatts
Size 3.5 mm x 3.5 mm
Process Standard CMOS

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