Researchers assess the potential of large area electronics to provide eco friendly, wireless enabled IoT sensors.
The Internet of Things or IoT, as it is commonly referred to, is set to have a huge impact on daily life and many industries. It connects and facilitates the exchange of data between many smart objects of different shapes and sizes—such as remote-controlled home security systems, self-driving cars equipped with sensors that detect obstacles in roads, and temperature-controlled factory equipment—on top of the internet and other sensing and communications networks.
The current state of technology relies on battery technology for their power sensor nodes, but batteries require constant replacement, which is expensive and harmful to the environment over time. Likewise, the current global production of lithium for battery materials may not be able to keep up with the growing energy demand from the proliferation of sensors. What if it could be replaced by a wireless powered sensor node.
Large-area electronics have recently emerged as an attractive alternative to conventional silicon-based technologies thanks to significant advances in solution-based processing, making devices and circuits more accessible. to print on flexible, large area substrates. They can be produced at low temperatures and on biodegradable substrates such as paper, making them more ecofriendly than their silicon-based counterparts.
KAUST alumni Kalaivanan Loganathan, along with Thomas Anthopoulos and coworkers, assessed the feasibility of various large-area electronic technologies and their potential to deliver eco friendly, wirelessly powered IoT sensors. developed a variety of RF electronic components, including metal-oxide and organic polymer-based semiconductor devices known as Schottky diodes. “These devices are essential components of wireless energy harvesters and ultimately dictate the performance and cost of sensor nodes,” Loganathan said.
Key contributions from the KAUST team include scalable methods for manufacturing RF diodes to harvest energy reaching the 5G/6G frequency range. “Such technologies provide the necessary building blocks toward a more sustainable way to power billions of sensor nodes in the near future,” Anthopoulos said. The team is currently working on the monolithic integration of these low-power devices with antennas and sensors to demonstrate their true potential.
Reference: Wireless powered large area electronics for eco-friendly Internet of Things, Nature Electronics (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s41928-022-00898-5