Micrometer-Scale Mechanical Switches Work at Just 50 Millivolts
Experts dream that one day much of the Internet of Things (IoT) will power itself. But the trickle of energy most prototype systems can gather from the environment through ambient heat, light, radio waves, or even the metabolism of bacteria don’t easily give you enough voltage to power today’s transistors.
One solution: ditch the transistors in favor of micrometer-scale mechanical switches. According to research presented this week at the IEEE International Electron Device Meeting, nanoelectromechanical (NEM) relays can switch using just 50 millivolts, that’s about 1/15th of what’s used on today’s processors.