Wireless power receiver slims down to charge smartcards

17th May 2018
Caroline Hayes


Powercast has slimmed down the design of its Powerharvester wireless power receiver to 0.3mm, making it suitable to charge compact devices, like smartcards, over-the-air, without interrupting service.

The PCC114 is smaller than the company’s earlier model, the PCC110 which has been used in industrial and commercial wireless power systems. At 1.0 x 0.6 x 0.3mm, the PCC114 is seven times smaller than the earlier version which has dimensions of 2.0 x 2.1 x 0.9mm. The footprint makes the new version suitable for embedding in space-constrained devices such as smartcards and hearing aids.

The Powerharvester wireless power receiver and RF-to-DC converter chip (PCC114) is for use in the Powerharvester Chipset, which consists of a wireless power receiver chip and boost converter IC.

The receiver is embedded in a device and harvests the RF energy sent over-the-air from either an “intentional” or “anticipated” RF source. It then converts the energy to DC to directly power a batteryless device or recharge a device’s batteries.

An intentional RF source is an RF transmitter, such as the company’s FCC-approved PowerSpot transmitter, to create a coverage area. It automatically charges enabled devices in this area. Anticipated RF sources, such as UHF (ultra-high frequency) RFID inventory readers or NFC (near field communications) PoS readers, could charge devices at the interaction point. The Powerharvester chip can harvest energy from the RF source at close range (centimeters for NFC or a few meters for UHF RFID) to power the device and enable contactless payment, ticketing, or data-change transactions.

Using wireless power harvesting, smartcards can be recharged while in use, for example in fingerprint sensors in security systems, ePaper displays that retain data even when outside the power field, and hotel door access cards, loyalty/gift cards, or transport passes that are reusable/reloadable.

The PCC114 operates across a wide RF power (-17 to +20dBm) and frequency (10MHz to 6GHz) range to RF to DC with up to 75% efficiency. It harvests from all modulation types, works with standard 50Ω antennae and is RoHS-compliant.  

The company expects consumer designs using this new chip to be shipping in 12 to 18 months. It will continue to offer the Powerharvester PCC110 chip, in an SC-70 package, for less space-constrained designs.


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