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Solar Power for Small Sensors

Wireless sensors are becoming more pervasive as we move toward the “Internet of Things” that futurists have been telling us is on the horizon. But for these sensors to work, they have to have power. In some cases, the sensors can piggyback on items that are already hooked up to the grid (like refrigerators). In others, though, the sensors either need battery power or some other form of energy, and that has traditionally mean that the sensors themselves have to be large enough to accommodate a power source. Those size considerations, in turn, limit design possibilities.

But Alta Devices claims it has come up with a solar solution that provides plenty of power using indoor lighting, while taking up a relatively small footprint.

Alta has designed very small solar cells that are flexible and can produce what the company claims is five times more energy via indoor light than other solar technologies. That means wireless sensors using the cells can be physically smaller and retain power even in fairly low-light environments.

The Alta Device cells are based on gallium arsenide, and claim a conversion effiency of 28.8%.

The company displayed the technology at the IDTechEx show this week. For more on Alta’s solar cells, see our previous coverage of the Puma AE unmanned aircraft system here. For more on Alta and its place in developing more efficient solar cells, check out this Forbes article.

Source: Alta Devices

About Brian Albright

Brian Albright is a contributing editor to Desktop Engineering. Send e-mail about this article to DE-Editors@deskeng.com.

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