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EEPROM harvests energy for battery-free design

11 Nov 2011

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STMicroelectronics has extended its family of RFID/NFC wireless memory ICs with a 16kb device that can also harvest enough energy to enable small electronic items using it to become completely battery-free electronic applications.

The M24LR16E 16kb device features a low-power I2C interface operating at 400kHz, and a 13.56MHz ISO15693 contactless RF interface, which can harvest ambient radio waves emitted by RFID reader-writers. It then converts those waves into a voltage output that may be used to power other electronic components, according to the company.

ST added that the energy harvesting capability of the device will enable new types of miniaturized electronics. The company has demonstrated the M24LR16E's energy-harvesting capability by illuminating indicator LEDs and by powering its battery-less STM8L-based Discovery kit. Other potential applications include e-paper devices, such as electronic shelf labels, as well as industrial automation, sensing and monitoring systems, and personal healthcare products.

ST said that the M24LR16E features non-volatile EEPROM storage, with a 40-year data retention capability and 1 million write-erase cycles. It operates within a supply voltage range of 1.8-5.5V. A data protection scheme is built in, including 32bit password protection to safeguard stored data against threats, such as accidental over-writing and unauthorized access or tampering.

The device integrates additional power-management circuitry to make harvested energy available to other devices on the PCB via an output pin. The nominal output voltage is between 1.7-2.3V, allowing the memory to supply power to many types of devices including low-voltage CMOS ICs.

The M24LR16E is in volume production now and available in SO8, TSSOP8 or MLP8 surface-mount packages. Prices are $0.6 in SO8 and TSSOP8, and $0.66 in MLP8, for orders over 1,000 pieces. Alternative pricing options may be available for higher quantities. The device may also be supplied in wafer form on request.

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