Archived Press Releases


Ald Energy Harvesting Modules Provide Key Enabler For Emerging Applications

SUNNYVALE, Calif. - November 6, 2006 - Advanced Linear Devices Inc., a design innovation leader in analog semiconductors, today announced plans to enter the rapidly growing energy harvesting market. ALD plans to introduce a series of highly efficient modules designed to capture, accumulate and store power from a variety of energy harvesting power sources and make it available for sensors, remote networks, micro machines and other applications. The module’s revolutionary efficiency will make it practical for the first time to harness energy from such widely available waste (virtually free) energy sources as vibrations, chemical reactions, fluid and air flow, environmental heat and others.

ALD will release a series of modules that begin operating from 0.0V in order to harvest energy from sources that generate intermittent energy impulses. The zero-power operation of the circuit ensures that even the most miniscule charges can be captured, stored and used for the application and that very little of the energy is squandered on the module’s own operation.

"The field of energy harvesting technology is generating a groundswell of attention as a number of academic, government and commercial endeavors seek to break free of the limitations placed on them by battery technology and power lines,'' said Bob Chao, president and CEO of ALD. "Up until now, it has been very difficult for developers in this field to capture the energy generated by these sources with the efficiency needed to power the applications they desire. Using components built with ALD's patented EPAD technology, we've developed electronic modules capable of capturing these minute energy sources with the efficiency to make these applications useful and practical. By commercializing these important module components, ALD intends to provide the catalyst to this emerging application area and help it overcome some of the limitations that have held back on the promises of energy harvesting."

Circuits built with conventional, off-the-shelf components are often incapable of providing the efficiency needed to make energy-harvesting a practical solution. Building circuits with conventional components usually required significantly more electrical energy to operate both the circuit and the application. The power generated by piezoelectric or thermoelectric materials often occurs at infrequent or random intervals and is usually not sufficient to directly and dependably power both the circuitry and the application.
ALD energy harvesting modules utilize the company's patented EPAD technology to deliver zero-power operation that allows the power generated by energy harvesting sources to go almost entirely to the application. EPAD devices have precision, ultra-low or zero power threshold voltages, allowing them to be turned on or off with very little or no power. These characteristics make them ideally suited for the circuits that serve as the link between energy harvesting materials and low power sensor and control applications.

ALD energy harvesting modules are also designed to store and manage the energy for extended periods of time with minimal leakage or loss. Since energy harvesting materials tend to capture power randomly, whenever the free waste energy source is available, the modules are built to capture and maintain that charge with maximum efficiency for as long as possible to supply power to the application when it is most needed.

The management, conservation and preservation of energy starting from 0.0V is a key parameter for these modules since they must be tolerant of a wide range of input voltages and a wide rate of voltage changes generated by the energy harvesting sources. ALD energy harvesting modules are designed so that charge loss is minimized and fresh electrical input charges can contribute to useful energy storage at maximized energy efficiency.

The company has built prototype modules for energy harvesting devices and plans to make several different versions available to, specifically, address the needs of a diverse range of energy harvesting sources and applications now being developed. Common energy harvesting sources include mechanical energy resulting from vibration, stress or strain; thermal energy from furnaces or other heat sources; solar energy from all forms of light sources; electromagnetic energy captured from inductors, coils and transformers; wind and fluid energy produced by air and fluid flow; and chemical energy from naturally recurring or biological processes. Many of these energy sources tend to be abundant, free and readily available from naturally-occurring environmental sources or as industrial by-products. Furthermore, these energy sources, if harvested in a well-engineered manner, are available virtually forever without maintenance.

About Advanced Linear Devices Inc. Advanced Linear Devices Inc. (ALD) is a design innovation leader in analog semiconductors specializing in the development and manufacture of precision CMOS linear integrated circuits, including analog switches, A/D converters and chipsets, voltage comparators, operational amplifiers, analog timers, and conventional and EPAD MOSFET transistors. Most standard functions are also available as ASIC cells for the development of customized integrated circuits.

ALD was founded in 1985 with a commitment to bridge technology gaps by providing analog semiconductor solutions to the challenges facing OEM design engineers in the industrial controls, military, automotive, security, and medical instrumentation markets. ALD is headquartered in Sunnyvale, Calif., with distributors throughout the U.S. and Europe.