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Affordable IoT Devices can be Developed by Smart Microchips

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IoT devices will become affordable with the help of Microchips.
Microchips, Wikimedia Commons
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A group of engineers has developed a smart microchip that can self-start and continue to operate even when the battery runs out of energy. This could help in manufacturing smaller and cheaper Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

Called BATLESS, the smart microchip was developed by engineers from the National University of Singapore and is designed with a novel power management technique that allows it to self-start and continue to function under dim light without any battery assistance, using a very small on-chip solar cell.

Its functioning was presented at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) 2018 conference in San Francisco.

“We have demonstrated that batteries used for IoT devices can be shrunk substantially as they do not always need to be available to maintain continuous operation,” research leader Massimo Alioto said.

Read also: New Technology Developed to Study Marine Life

“Tackling this fundamental problem is a major advancement towards the ultimate vision of IoT sensor nodes without the use of batteries and will pave the way for a world with a trillion IoT devices,” Alioto added.

Currently, batteries in IoT devices are much larger and up to three times more expensive than the single chip they power.

A group of engineers has developed a smart microchip that can self-start and continue to operate even when the battery runs out of energy.
National University of Singapore, Wikimedia Commons

This research substantially reduces the size of batteries required to power IoT sensor nodes, making them 10 times smaller and cheaper to produce.

“BATLESS is the first example of a new class of chips that are indifferent to battery charge availability. In minimum-power mode, it uses 1,000 to 100,000 times less power, compared to the best existing microcontrollers designed for fixed minimum-energy operation,” Alioto added.

“At the same time, our 16-bit microcontroller can also operate 100,000 times faster than others that have been recently designed for fixed minimum power operation,” Alioto noted.

The research team aims to demonstrate a solution that shrinks the battery to millimetres with the long-term goal of completely eliminating the need for it. (IANS)

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NASA’s TESS Discovers New Worlds Only 5 Months After Its Launch

With four special cameras, TESS uses a detection method called transit photometry.

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TESS, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, is shown in this conceptual illustration obtained by Reuters on March 28, 2018. NASA sent TESS into orbit from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. VOA

A planet-hunting orbital telescope designed to detect worlds beyond our solar system discovered two distant planets this week five months after its launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida, officials said on Thursday.

NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, better known as TESS, made an early discovery of “super-Earth” and “hot Earth” planets in solar systems at least 49 light-years away, marking the satellite’s first discovery since its April launch.

TESS is on a two-year, $337 million mission to expand astronomers’ known catalog of so-called exoplanets, worlds circling distant stars.

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TESS Deputy Science Director Sara Seager. VOA

While the two planets are too hot to support life, TESS Deputy Science Director Sara Seager expects many more such discoveries.

“We will have to wait and see what else TESS discovers,” Seager told Reuters. “We do know that planets are out there, littering the night sky, just waiting to be found.”

TESS is designed to build on the work of its predecessor, the Kepler space telescope, which discovered the bulk of some 3,700 exoplanets documented during the past 20 years and is running out of fuel.

NASA expects to pinpoint thousands more previously unknown worlds, perhaps hundreds of them Earth-sized or “super Earth” sized — no larger than twice as big as our home planet.

Those are believed the most likely to feature rocky surfaces or oceans and are thus considered the best candidates for life to evolve. Scientists have said they hope TESS will ultimately help catalog at least 100 more rocky exoplanets for further study in what has become one of astronomy’s newest fields of exploration.

 

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An artist’s concept provided by NASA shows the Keplar Spacecraft moving through space. VOA

 

MIT researchers on Wednesday announced the discovery of Pi Mensae c, a “super-earth” planet 60 light-years away orbiting its sun every 6.3 days. The discovery of LHS 3844 b, a “hot-earth” planet 49 light-years away that orbits its sun every 11 hours, was announced on Thursday.

Pi Mensae c could have a solid surface or be a waterworld as the composition of such planets is a mixed bag, Martin Spill, NASA’s program scientist for TESS, said in a phone interview.

The two newest planets, which still need to be reviewed by other researchers, offer the chance for follow-up study, officials said.

Also Read: Parker Solar Probe of NASA Sends Back Its First Images

“That, of course, is TESS’ entire purpose — to find those planets around those brightest nearby stars to do this really detailed characterization,” Spill said.

With four special cameras, TESS uses a detection method called transit photometry, which looks for periodic dips in the visible light of stars caused by planets passing, or transiting, in front of them. (VOA)