IT or Information Technology and related services account for 2% of all Carbon emissions globally. The IMEC laboratory in Belgium has been developing microchips which can run on the tiniest amounts of power – like energy harvested from the slightest variations in the environment etc…
For any type of computing device to harvest this energy, its microchip must be able to work with so-called ‘sub-threshold’ voltages – voltages at which a normal transistor would turn itself off. The IMEC lab has come out with a prototype head band which monitors a patients vital signs and sends a wireless SOS in case of an epileptic seizure or a heart attack. Instead of being powered by batteries, it gets all the energy it needs solely from the warmth of the patient’s forehead. The thermoelectric generator is mounted on the forehead and converts the heat flow between the skin and air into electrical power.
Mr Gyselinkckx’s team expand the range of functions that can be achieved at sub-threshold voltages, they could revolutionize not only the market for niche headbands, but the entire world of computing.
“There is a tremendous drive today to reduce the power consumption of all kinds of electronics that we’re using – computers, cell phones, laptops”, says Mr Gyselinckx.
“The techniques we’re using to make ultra low power devices for body sensors could also be used in these applications.” It is an attractive idea – laptops that power themselves from the heat of your lap. But Mr Gyselinckx admits this is still some way off.
IMEC performs world-leading research in nano-electronics and nano-technology. Its staff of more than 1,750 people includes over 550 industrial residents and guest researchers. Imec’s research is applied in better healthcare, smart electronics, sustainable energy, and safer transport.
The idea is revolutionary and when fully viable will make a huge impact on the world of electronics.
A Video from the BBC
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