Near-zero-power temperature sensor paves way for long lasting wearable devices

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Temperature sensor, zero power temperature sensor

A new near-zero-power consuming temperature sensor is garnering a lot of attention for it runs on about power 10 billion times smaller than a watt.

The temperature sensor runs on just 113 picowatts of power and scientists behind the invention are hopeful that this particular tiny sensor and others based on their technology will pave way for extra-long lasting wearable devices that monitor health, as well as Internet of Things and smart home systems on a single charge.

The temperature sensor has been developed by researchers at the University of California, San Diego, and the team behind the new temperature sensor is hopeful that it could also lead to development of new class of devices that can be powered by harvesting energy from low-power sources, such as the body or the surrounding environment, researchers said.

The new sensor is said to be a step towards a larger goal of developing wearable devices that are not only low-power consuming devices, but also are unobtrusive and invisible. According to the inventors, their technology has the potential of eliminating the need of ever change or recharging a battery.

The temperature sensor is integrated into a small chip measuring 0.15 square millimetres in area. It operates at temperatures ranging from minus 20 degrees Celsius to 40 degrees Celsius. Its performance is fairly comparable to that of the state of the art even at near-zero-power, researchers said. One tradeoff is that the sensor has a response time of approximately one temperature update per second, which is slightly slower than existing temperature sensors.

However, this response time is sufficient for devices that operate in the human body, homes and other environments where temperature do not fluctuate rapidly, researchers said. Moving forward, the team is working to improve the accuracy of the temperature sensor. The team is also optimising the design so that it can be successfully integrated into commercial devices.

“We’re building systems that have such low power requirements that they could potentially run for years on just a tiny battery,” said Hui Wang, a PhD student involved with the study said.

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