Power Electronics

Freescale Unveils Breakthrough in Power Conversion Technology for Solar Applications

Freescale has developed advanced, ultra-low-voltage DC-to-DC converter technology that enables industry-leading solar cell startup and operating performance and efficiency at levels as low as 0.32 volts, as well as operation down to 0.25 V. Most ICs cannot start up at voltages less than the typical turn-on voltage of a transistor (approximately 0.7 V) without external assistance. This limitation reduces system design options and increases the complexity of power conversion and energy recovery applications involving ultra-low voltages.

Freescale's power conversion technology enables IC startup thresholds to be reduced to 0.32 V and efficiencies of nearly 90 percent. This technology breakthrough can enable practical and cost-effective ways to develop a wide range of single-cell solar power systems and other energy-harvesting applications, such as thermoelectric and mechanical scavenging systems. Potential applications include solar-powered battery chargers, trickle chargers for automotive systems, chargers for cell phones and laptops, remote data acquisition and industrial HVAC systems, PV-based traffic signals, solar-powered home and commercial lighting products, and self-powered wireless transponders.

Using a low-cost single solar cell, Freescale's power conversion technology is engineered to charge a Li-Ion battery cell at 100mA. Present charging systems require multiple solar cells in series, which drives up cost, reduces efficiency, and increases sensitivity to shading and cell mismatches.

The exceptional performance and efficiency of Freescale's DC-to-DC power conversion technology is achieved through a combination of SMARTMOS 10 process technology, optimized flip-chip on leadframe (FCOL) packaging and innovative IC design. Freescale's 130-nanometer SMARTMOS 10 technology is engineered to enable both low voltage operation and high efficiency.

SMARTMOS technology is Freescale's proprietary BiCMOS-type smart power process technology that integrates precision analog, efficient power devices and dense CMOS logic in a cost-effective, single-chip product. Each generation of SMARTMOS technology improves analog, power and digital capabilities on a reduced chip size.

SMARTMOS 10 technology is the latest generation of Freescale's smart power process technology. It is designed to enable long battery life with the lowest power device leakage level available at temperature, with a better than 20x improvement over previous generations. This 130-nm technology shows one of the most aggressive generation-to-generation shrinks in the industry for power, analog and digital capabilities, with better than 50 percent reduction across the board. It is designed to enable versatile, single-chip products that can manage diverse functions, such as battery power and protection, color screens, keypads, high-speed digital USB, microphones and speakers.

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