German semiconductor giant Infineon Technologies AG is developing thermogenerator technology to power the microelectronic devices that it expects to go into 'smart clothing.'
Infineon's thermogenerator uses the temperature differential between the human body's surface and the clothing a person is wearing to generate electrical power.
The company's ultimate goal is to put electronic devices into clothes, such as health monitors and exercise computers, that do not require batteries. So far, Infineon has developed a silicon-based thermogenerator chip that outputs an electrical power of several microwatts per sqare centimeter.
Under moderate ambient conditions, the temperature differential between clothing and the surface of a person's skin is at least 5C, which allows the thermogenerator chip to supply more than 1 W/sq. cm. and a voltage of 5 V/sq. cm. under load.
This is enough to power medical sensors and less complex microelectronic chips, the company said.