SAN JOSE, Calif. – Yogesh Ramadass was named Innovator of the Year in the ACE Awards for his pioneering work in energy harvesting circuits. The Texas Instruments lead design engineer helped craft the TPS 62736, an ultra-low power converter that manages microwatts generated from solar, thermoelectric, magnetic and vibration energy.
The device is actually a second-generation design that evolved out of graduate work at MIT as part of a five-person team assisted by Anantha Chandrakasan, the head of electrical engineering and computer science there. The group developed a 0.3-volt energy harvesting part that was presented in a 2008 paper at International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC). It ultimately saw the light of day as a TI product, the bq25504.
The MIT work was funded in part by a grant from the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. DARPA sees potential for energy harvesting devices to power tiny, self-contained sensor networks that could be dispersed in a battlefield.
Others believe energy harvesting circuits will drive implantable medical devices, using the body's own heat or movement to provide power. In addition, researchers say the technology could be suitable for use in body area networks and RFID and other wireless terminals.
“Energy harvesting is still a relatively new field,” Ramadass said in a recent article for TI’s internal Web site. “It’s exciting going from research to productization and creating a market,” he added.
Yogesh Ramadass is helping pioneer the young but promising field of energy harvesting.
Ramadass is already at work on a next-generation energy harvesting chip at TI. He also participates in developing high-power wired and wireless mobile phone charger systems.
The TI engineer was co-authored dozens of technical papers, at least ten of which have been cited dozens of times in related works. He was a co-recipient of the Jack Kilby best student paper award at ISSCC 2009 and the Beatrice Winner award for editorial excellence at ISSCC 2007.
He serves on the technical program committee for ISSCC. He also served as the chair of the analog, MEMS, mixed signal and imaging electronics committee for another technical conference.
The full list of ACE Award winners will be announced at the ACE Awards ceremony on Tuesday, April 23 at The Sainte Claire Hotel in San Jose, during DESIGN West. The ACE awards are given out by UBM Tech, the publisher of EE Times and EDN.
Will the day come that large energy harvesting circuits are so aggressive that they create a significant load on the source industrial energy provider? When tapping human energy, energy harvesting might provide an extra benefit - getting a little more of a workout could burn up calories and increase fitness. Presumably, the microwatt harvesting systems that run low power circuits will not have perceptible effects on their "hosts".