A CMOS micro power switched-capacitor DC-DC step-up converter for indoor light energy harvesting applications

Carvalho, Carlos, Guilherme Lavareda, Ana Amaral, Carlos Nunes de Carvalho, and Nuno Paulino. "A CMOS micro power switched-capacitor DC-DC step-up converter for indoor light energy harvesting applications." ANALOG INTEGRATED CIRCUITS AND SIGNAL PROCESSING 78 (2014): 333-351.


This paper presents a micro power light energy harvesting system for indoor environments. Light energy is collected by amorphous silicon photovoltaic (a-Si:H PV) cells, processed by a switched capacitor (SC) voltage doubler circuit with maximum power point tracking (MPPT), and finally stored in a large capacitor. The MPPT fractional open circuit voltage (V-OC) technique is implemented by an asynchronous state machine (ASM) that creates and dynamically adjusts the clock frequency of the step-up SC circuit, matching the input impedance of the SC circuit to the maximum power point condition of the PV cells. The ASM has a separate local power supply to make it robust against load variations. In order to reduce the area occupied by the SC circuit, while maintaining an acceptable efficiency value, the SC circuit uses MOSFET capacitors with a charge sharing scheme for the bottom plate parasitic capacitors. The circuit occupies an area of 0.31 mm(2) in a 130 nm CMOS technology. The system was designed in order to work under realistic indoor light intensities. Experimental results show that the proposed system, using PV cells with an area of 14 cm(2), is capable of starting-up from a 0 V condition, with an irradiance of only 0.32 W/m(2). After starting-up, the system requires an irradiance of only 0.18 W/m(2) (18 mu W/cm(2)) to remain operating. The ASM circuit can operate correctly using a local power supply voltage of 453 mV, dissipating only 0.085 mu W. These values are, to the best of the authors' knowledge, the lowest reported in the literature. The maximum efficiency of the SC converter is 70.3 % for an input power of 48 mu W, which is comparable with reported values from circuits operating at similar power levels.