Massive challenge

The Harvesting Revolution #2

Sadok Ben Dkhil

For this second newsletter the context is particular. Humanity is facing a massive challenge with the COVID-19 situation. We fully support all the people from biomedical, epidemia research, healthcare services… involved in this battle.

From our side, we will try to continue talking about energy harvesting even if we highlight some initiatives from “tech ecosystem” in favor of the fight against COVID-19.

💡 LEARNING CONTENT

A short overview of the “third generation”photovoltaic? As I mentioned in my previous newsletter, most solar cells presently on the market are based on silicon wafers, the so-called first generation technology. Second-generation cells are thin-film technologies that are often commercially available, such as copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS), cadmium telluride (CdTe), gallium arsenide (GaAs) and amorphous silicon (a-Si:H). Currently, inorganics like crystalline silicon, polycrystalline silicon (poly-Si), cadmium telluride, and copper indium germanium selenide with power conversion efficiency (PCE) of 15–20% are dominant in solar energy production.

Third-generation cells are less commercially-advanced ‘emerging’ technologies. This includes organic photovoltaic (OPVs), copper zinc tin sulphide (CZTS), perovskite solar-celles, dye-sensitised solar cells (DSSCs), and quantum dot solar cells. Read more…

🎙 INTERVIEW // Alain Jutant – VP sales and business development @ITEN

Hi Alain, very happy to discuss with you today ! What is your function for ITEN ?

I’m the VP Sales and business development of ITEN in charge of the global sales since mid-2018.

Your baseline is “why should you choose between Energy and Power?” Could you explain us this motto and introduce your innovation at the same time?

High scale integration, self-reliance, security of data, ease of manufacturing, simple recycling and low manufacturing costs are the main drivers of the electronic industry. 

To meet all these requirements, it is now a requisite to have energy micro-storage solutions available in a very compact form factor, easy to assemble and able to deliver high power on demand while being reliable on an extended operating temperature range

ITEN’s charter is precisely to develop, manufacture and sell fast-rechargeable solid-state micro-batteries in the form of Surface Mounted Devices (SMD) to be assembled and handled like any other SMD component by using pick-&-place and solder reflow techniques.

By using ITEN’s compact SMD micro-batteries, designers of electronic systems and of embedded solutions do have access to both very good energy storage densities and very high peak currents (pulses from 50 to 200 mA over 100 ms). It is no longer required for them to choose between

What is the issue you want to solve with your technology?

ITEN micro-batteries are all rechargeable 3D solid-state batteries operating on a broad operating temperature range (up to -40°C +85°C) and featuring lifespan from 10 to 20 years.

Their high energy storage density is ideal for applications where very small footprints are required; in addition, their disruptive technology enables storing energy but also delivering high power and peak currents (e.g. a 500µA.h micro-battery can deliver peak currents up to 200mA) required to power up sensors and RF transmissions under various protocols (BluetoothTM, ZigbeeTM, LORATM, SigfoxTM, NB-IoT, UWB or LTE-M) for data delivered by autonomous wireless sensors.

All that in a footprint of a few mm² and a volume of around 5 to 12mm3.

Since ITEN micro-batteries are manufactured by stacking elementary cells, the sizes and capacities of the micro-batteries can be easily customized and tailored to meet your use cases. For specific applications, the micro-battery thickness can even be cut down to 330µm.

The same technology enables very fast recharging of the micro-battery at constant voltage: the time to recharge the micro-battery from 0 to 50% state-of-charge is around 40 to 60 seconds and charging to 80% SOC takes less than 5 minutes.

Designers of electronic systems shall also like the low self-discharge rate and their ability to withstand more than 2000 charge/discharge cycles at 75% DOD (@room temperature). 

One other significant advantage is that ITEN micro-batteries are designed to operate at high temperature and are not sensitive to short circuits specially during assembly: they can indeed be handled by any automatic PCB assembly line, like any other SMD component.

Last but not least, our solid-state micro-batteries are safe, not flammable (neither Lithium metal, nor organic electrolytes) and are recyclable like any other SMD component.

Which kind of application you want to address?

ITEN’s products are the ideal solutions for miniature and nomadic devices and concrete answers as soon as you need

  • to back-up data in the event of power loss,

  • to power-assist primary batteries so as to deliver the peak currents required for a RF transmission,

  • to power up metering and wireless autonomous sensors, or sensor loggers and beacons;

ITEN’s micro-batteries are a perfect match for applications of power back-up of real time clocks, volatile memories and microcontrollers; their high energy and power densities combined with their long lifetimes are also suitable for self-powered sensor networks in smart homes, smart buildings, smart cities, most of the time in combination with energy harvesters.

ITEN’s micro-batteries are also ushered in completely new use cases: for implantable medical devices or for devices requiring where compactness and safety are key. Whereas for smart cards with embedded biometrics or dynamic codes, the appealing features are both low thickness and fast-charging and high-power capabilities.

They are also very useful in smart watches, e-Textiles and wearables in general, as well as in smart shelf-labels or in tire-pressure monitoring systems.

Who are your customers and which kind of development have you already initiate with them?

Our customers are OEM/ODM mainly in the consumer, telecom, automotive and industrial fields but also electronics design houses and EMS as well.

They are all in the design phase of products to be put on the market from early 2021.

How the technology developed by ITEN is complementary to the energy harvesting?

ITEN micro-batteries are very compact energy storage solutions which can be used to store energy collected by energy harvesters (e.g. Photovoltaics from Dracula Technologies, Thermoelectric Generators or systems collecting energy from vibrations, etc) and then to power up sensors, actuators and RF transmission of the data or of alerts to a central point of decision. The power delivered by our micro-batteries meets demanding requirements of both short range (BLE) and long range (Sigfox, LoRA) RF protocols. The interface between the harvester and the micro-battery is always simple, either using dc-dc converters or specific PMIC like the one proposed by e-Peas.

Have you already initiated some test and prototype mixing your technology and some technology of energy harvesting?

We have several designs in progress in the IOT in general, and specially in the home automation, smart building and smart cities applications. In most cases the micro-battery collects energy from harvesters and power up the complete sensor node and the RF transmission

I know, the next weeks will be impacted by the epidemic current situation but did you schedule to attend or exhibit in some events in the next few months?

A lot of exhibitions and conferences have indeed been cancelled or postponed. Our visibility for the next few months is not high. We intend to be at Electronica and Trustech by year end and will check some shorter term opportunities in Asia and US s once the sanitary situation has improved and the travel bans are over.

📅 EVENTS WHERE YOU SHOULD GO THIS MONTH

Obviously all the interesting events scheduled during the next weeks have been cancelled. Also we have a thought for all the organizers.

Fighting coronavirus is now the priority. The startup ecosystem is joining the battle. Deep-tech startup, innovative SME and startuppers community could have a major role to face COVID-19 . That’s why, I’m sharing some nice initiatives :

  • European commission has launched a call for all startups and small businesses with technologies & innovations that could help treat, test & monitor the #COVID19 outbreak to apply now for fast-track funding (the application is now closed)

  • Agorize launched a Code Life ventilator Challenge in order to design a low-cost, simple, easy-to-use and easy-to-build ventilator that can serve the COVID patients, in an emergency timeframe.

  • A lots of small communities of makers, engineer, designer appeared during the last days. This one is a very nice one composed of french makers : engineer, mechanic and electrician technician, dev…

    👋 If you want to get in touch with me or someone of my team : contact@dracula-technologies.com

    Take care !

    Sadok


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