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Innovative device could yield better solar chargers

solar-cells4Freescale Semiconductor, a firm based in Austin, Texas, is this week showcasing an innovative power conversion device that it says could deliver a breakthrough for single-cell solar power systems.

Freescale’s DC-to-DC converter, being demonstrated at the Applied Power Electronics Conference and Exposition (APEC), enables solar power integrated circuits (IC) to start up at voltages as low as 0.32 volts. Most integrated circuits, the company notes, can’t start up at voltages of less than 0.7 volts without external assistance.

“We see no IC solutions currently available approaching the ultra-low-voltage capability and power conversion efficiency of our analog technology demonstrated at APEC,” said Arman Naghavi, vice president and general manager of Freescale’s Analog, Mixed-Signal and Power Division. “Freescale has demonstrated a single-chip solution that addresses one of the most difficult technological and practical challenges of extracting power from a single solar cell. This breakthrough can be used to help reduce the cost and streamline the development of innovative solar chargers, energy-harvesting systems and other low-voltage energy sources.”

Among the technologies that could benefit from the development are solar-powered battery chargers, trickle chargers for automotive systems, chargers for mobile 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.

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