Jorge Chapa

MICROCHIPS THAT RUN ON BODYHEAT

by , 03/31/08

MIT microchip, microchip batteries, energy-efficient micro-chips, Microchip power consumption, body heat power for Microchips, Anantha Chandrakasan

Today’s microchips, while tiny, still use a fair ammount of power. This means that batteries have to be large and don’t usually last very long. But what if microchips were just a little bit more efficient? That’s what a team of engineers at MIT was thinking when they set out to redesign the microchip to make it even more efficient. The result is a microchip with a power consumption that is so low it can be recharged by your very own body heat.


MIT, microchip, batteries, energy-efficiency, power consumption, body heat power, Anantha Chandrakasan, microchip2.jpg

Imagine the possibilities of bodyheat powered microchips: pacemakers could be powered by the body’s warmth, mobile phones by just moving them, and remote sensors could get energy just by the ambient energy around them. The key lies in the team’s ability to reduce the operating voltage of the device. Rather than operating at 1.0 volts, the new microchip operates at just 0.3 volts.

MIT’s prototype microchip is only a proof of concept and it will be five years before the chip can become commercially available. Among the challenges to solve is the manufacturing process involved in making the chips. The slightest error can cause variations in the voltage, thus making the chip unusable. “Designing the chip to minimize its vulnerability to such variations is a big part of our strategy,” said Anantha Chandrakasan leader of the MIT team.

+ Team develops energy-efficient microchip

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14 Comments

  1. Insider74 April 8, 2008 at 1:37 pm

    Yeah I see this being used for future generation RFID implantable chips.Would be a nice combination wouldn’t it? ha ha.Yeah “they did it again” alright

  2. MIT Team Designs Microc... April 2, 2008 at 1:32 am

    [...] read more | digg story [...]

  3. Wednesdays Insanity &la... April 2, 2008 at 1:03 am

    [...] cheats, Mircochips that run on body heat, must be [...]

  4. » episode 27 4-02... April 1, 2008 at 11:01 pm

    [...] I found out later to be an April Fools joke. I am omiting the link. iPod Portability – Makeuseof Microchips on Bodyheat – Inhabitat [...]

  5. justjack April 1, 2008 at 3:29 pm

    Congrats to MIT…As an old Textile engineer I look forward to finding out more..Functional clothes are the future.
    They can be enviornmentally safe, provide SPF protection and fibers can be engineered to accomodate the technology. There are blends of fibers and basic weaving techniques that can made for specific types of garments depending on the function of the product; Heat collection, insulation and conducttivity.
    I look forward to more info.

  6. Wow April 1, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    THEY DID IT AGAIN!

  7. Wow April 1, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    Wow! those MIT geeks did it again! How will they outdo themselves next?

  8. Car Resources » B... April 1, 2008 at 2:03 pm

    [...] at MIT was thinking when they set out to redesign the microchip to make it even more efficient.read more | digg [...]

  9. Microchips that run on ... April 1, 2008 at 8:42 am

    [...] Today’s microchips, while tiny, still use a fair amount of power. This means that batteries have to be large and don’t usually last very long. But what if microchips were just a little bit more efficient? That’s what a team of engineers at MIT was thinking when they set out to redesign the microchip to make it even more efficient. – InHabitat [...]

  10. |.::Come ricaricare il ... April 1, 2008 at 6:33 am

    [...] Inhabitat [...]

  11. hugo hugo April 1, 2008 at 2:58 am

    Thanks FlatGreg for clarifying.

  12. FlatGreg March 31, 2008 at 7:31 pm

    To clarify – the innovation was regarding a low power chip, not a way to harness body heat or ambient energy as a power source. They’re simply saying that with a power consumption this low, a body heat power source might be feasible. The inhabitat summary is a little misleading. Designing a chip to run at .3 V though is a huge accomplishment, so congrats to them on that.

    hugo:
    1 – Processors certainly do, but only when they’re active. A screen on high brightness however will be the biggest energy hog on a laptop. On a day to day basis though, most people aren’t taxing their laptops enough for the CPU to have that big of a power draw.
    3 – The design techniques allowing them to create a chip working at .3V was the invention. These techniques are what allowed them to tackle the various challenges (interference and variation in manufacturing are two).

  13. hugo hugo March 31, 2008 at 8:32 am

    Aha, three issues.

    First, all my mobile applications (laptop, mobile phone, pda) loose their energy rapidly when I leave the screen or bluetooth turned on, I believe these are the real issues on mobile equipment. This is the first time I hear processors take a fair amount of energy.

    Second, how is it possible to turn bodyheat in energy with a fair efficiency? That would be quite a nice technology not just for micro processors, but for all mobile power needs.

    I am far from an electronic expert, but doesn’t the .3 volts power supply leave too much room for interference? Increasing the sensitivity limits the use of this MP? Overcomming this problem is, I think, the biggest challange (bigger then the actual invention).

  14. NewWays » Green/C... March 31, 2008 at 5:30 am

    [...] via Inhabitat.com [...]

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