A Greener Internet of Things Without Cables – Newswise

A Greener Internet of Things Without Cables - Newswise

Newswise – Emerging forms of thin-film device technologies that rely on alternative semiconductor materials, such as printable organics, nanocarbon allotropes and metal oxides, could contribute to a more economically and environmentally sustainable Internet of Things (IoT), a KAUST-led international team suggests.

The IoT will have a major impact on everyday life and on many industries. It connects and facilitates data exchange between a large number of smart objects of various shapes and sizes – such as remote-controlled home security systems, self-driving cars equipped with sensors that detect obstacles on the road, and temperature-controlled factory equipment – around the world. the internet and other sensing and communication networks.

This fast-growing hypernetwork is expected to reach trillions of devices over the next decade, increasing the number of sensor nodes deployed on its platforms.

Current approaches used to power sensor nodes are based on battery technology, but batteries require frequent replacement, which is costly and environmentally damaging over time. Also, the current global production of lithium for battery materials may not keep pace with the increasing demand for energy due to the growing number of sensors.

Wirelessly powered sensor nodes can help realize a sustainable IoT by extracting energy from the environment using, among other things, so-called energy harvesters, such as photovoltaic cells and radio frequency (RF) energy harvesters. Large-area electronics could be the key to making these power sources possible.

KAUST alumni Kalaivanan Loganathan, along with Thomas Anthopoulos and colleagues, assessed the viability of several large-scale electronic technologies and their potential to deliver environmentally friendly, wirelessly powered IoT sensors.

Large-area electronics have recently emerged as an attractive alternative to conventional silicon-based technologies thanks to significant advances in solution-based processing, making it easier to print devices and circuits on flexible, large-area substrates. They can be produced at low temperatures and on biodegradable substrates such as paper, making them more environmentally friendly than their silicon-based counterparts.

Over the years, Anthopoulos’ team has developed a range of RF electronic components, including metal oxide and organic polymer-based semiconductor devices known as Schottky diodes. “These devices are critical components in wireless energy harvesters and ultimately dictate the performance and cost of the sensor nodes,” says Loganathan.

Key contributions from the KAUST team are scalable methods for fabricating RF diodes to harvest energy reaching the 5G/6G frequency range. “Such technologies provide the necessary building blocks for a more sustainable way to power the billions of sensor nodes in the near future,” says Anthopoulos.

The team is exploring the monolithic integration of these low-power devices with antenna and sensors to show their true potential, adds Loganathan.

Leave a Reply