Apply for the development board now

Nanopower’s PMIC redefines low-power design

It’s not often that ipXchange comes across a new class of component that we have never seen before. But with all our recent content about energy harvesting, this changes the game. Let us introduce you to Nanopower and its nPZero power-saving IC.

Following from a discussion at Embedded World 2024, ipXchange chatted with William from Nanopower, a disruptive company that is redefining how engineers approach ultra-low-power designs, such as those powered by harvested energy. This ipXperience provides a glimpse into the secrets of the nPZero power-saving IC and where this new class of device sits in your system.

What is the nPZero?

The nPZero device is a smart Power Management IC (PMIC) with the key differentiator being that it supports standalone operation in a similar way to a microcontroller, with an operating current draw of just 20 nA. Like most MCUs, it can connect to peripherals such as sensors, but it can also power-cycle these devices and manage the power supply to the system. This means that the nPZero can turn off any devices that are not currently being used to save power.

More commonly, however, the nPZero acts in conjunction with a more powerful host device, like a microcontroller, microprocessor, or wireless SoC. In the same way as other peripherals, the nPZero can ensure that the high-performance host is only active when the system requires its use. An internal clock and memory buffer enables you to set rules, regularly turn on sensors, read data, and, if necessary, wake up the host for reporting to the cloud or doing additional computation.

In this way, you can see how the power consumption of a design can be drastically reduced. Engineers no longer need to choose between a low-power host and high performance. The nPZero provides that low-power edge to a design with a far lower sleep current than any fully featured host can offer.

Where to use the nPZero

As William explains, many applications can benefit from this technology as it eliminates the requirement for maintenance throughout a product lifetime. 24-7 applications like medical implants, building automation sensors, and agricultural monitors running on harvested energy can be fully powered without the need for a battery, thanks to the nPZero.

Nanopower’s solution is the perfect fit for applications that do not need to actively operate often but need to last for the longest time. The device is also able to monitor and manage the energy of the system far more efficiently than traditional host-only architectures. It is agnostic to all types of energy harvesters, storage devices, and peripherals, making it an extremely versatile solution for low-power applications.

How to test this technology

The evaluation platform for the nPZero is equally agnostic, with Arduino headers to connect your choice of host during testing. There are also several PMOD headers so that you can easily connect sensors for testing the full system before designing Nanopower’s solution into your product

If you’ve got a commercial application and want to put Nanopower’s nPZero to the test, follow the link to the board page below and fill out the form to evaluate this truly disruptive technology.

Keep designing!

Love energy harvesting technology? Check out these other interviews from ipXchange:

Eliminating batteries in ESL designs with e-peas

Next-level green IoT with recyclable PV cells?! | Dracula Technologies

These sustainable supercapacitors will change IoT

A LoRaWAN IoT running solely on harvested energy!

Nanopower nPZero Power-Saving IC

Want to take the base-level current draw of your device to ridiculous lows?

Apply for the development board now
Get industry related news

Sign up for our newsletter and get news about the latest development boards direct to your inbox.

We care about the protection of your data. Read our Privacy Policy.