As of May 16, Powercast has now revealed an update for its Powerharvester wireless power receiver and RF-to-DC converter chip, the PCC114, which measures just 1 x 0.6 x 0.3mm. That’s around 7-times smaller than its previous chip, the Powerharvester PCC110, while the volume of the chip is reduced by around 20-times. The implication of that is that it will be able to be embedded in much more compact devices or just more efficiently into others. The chips themselves, for those who aren’t already aware, allow for over-the-air charging or powering, without taking up so much space or adding weight. These aren’t the standard wireless charging chips found in smartphones, either. When paired with the proper source such as the company’s PowerSpot far field transmitter, they can provide operating power or charge batteries of devices up to 80 feet away. So the smaller size and weight could make these more appealing for use in devices such as electronics remotes or for charging low-energy devices. Powercast envisions their use in items such as Bluetooth headphones, game controllers, fingerprint scanners, and smart cards such as hotel access cards. Low-power IoT devices likely aren’t out of the question either.
The chips work by harvesting radio frequency (RF) based energy sent from either “intentional” or “anticipated” transmitter source. That gets converted by the chip into direct current which can either charge up a device powered by batteries or provide power for more low-energy devices directly. Devices like the above-mentioned PowerSpot fall into the intentional transmitter source and work like Wi-Fi routers, creating a field of RF for devices with the appropriate chip to pull from. The charging or powering process happens automatically once a chip-enabled device is within that range. However, other sources, such as an NFC or RFID reader can also provide a charge under the “anticipated” category. The closer to the source, the more power that can be supplied, of course.
As to the more technical specifications of the newest chip, pricing hasn’t been provided as of this writing. With that said, both of its Powercast chips come with a PCC210 boost converter IC that allows for inputs as low as 0.4V and up to 5.5V at 50mA. The power conversion from RF to DC is said to be 75-percent efficient, works with standard 50-ohm antennas, and is RoHS compliant.