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Microwatt sensors suit energy-scavenging apps

Posted: 12 Jun 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:sensor? humidity temperature sensor? microcontroller?

ChipSensors Ltd has introduced a family of digital humidity and temperature sensors at the Sensors Exposition in Chicago Illinois.

Because the sensing medium sits within the dielectric above a conventionally manufactured CMOS IC, the technology can be used to create highly-integrated industrial, scientific and medical sensors, with the IC implementing ADC, microcontroller and transmission functions to send collected data off-chip.

And because the devices in the family only consume microwatts of power, the sensors are being touted as suitable for energy-scavenging and long-life battery applications in wireless networks, goods monitoring and logistics.

ChipSensors' CS114 single-chip I?C digital sensor chip comes in a QFN package measuring 4mm x 4mm. The CS115 offers the same die in a 4-lead SIP package option, while the CS124 adds an auxiliary sensor input channel to the on-chip ADC.

The resolution of the ADC was not provided in datasheets but the company quotes an accuracy of measurement of 2.0 percent relative humidity from 20 to 80 percent relative humidity and a 0.5C temperature accuracy over the range 40C to +125C.

The device operates from a 1.8V to 3.6V power supply with a peak current draw of 400?A and an average current draw of 1?A when taking 1 sample per minute. Samples are currently available in small quantities for evaluation, with wider sampling planned for Q3 09, and production scheduled for Q4 09, the company said.

"We're seeing excellent linearity and performance in initial beta trials," said Kevin Styles, VP of marketing at ChipSensors, in a statement. "We are keen to engage with OEM customers to evaluate our sensors across a diverse range of applications, from industrial and instrumentation to automotive and medical."

ChipSensors patented use of porous low-k dielectrics on the CMOS chip surface as humidity and gas sensors was described in EE Times in 2007.

- Peter Clarke
EE Times Europe

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