Low Power IC Design with Regulated Output Voltage and Maximum Power Point Tracking for Body Heat Energy Harvesting

TR Number



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Virginia Tech


As wearable technology and wireless sensor nodes become more and more ubiquitous, the batteries required to power them have become more and more unappealing as they limit lifetime and scalability. Energy harvesting from body heat provides a solution to these limitations. Energy can be harvested from body heat using thermoelectric generators, or TEGs. TEGs provide a continuous, scalable, solid-state energy source ideal for wearable and wireless electronics and sensors. Unfortunately, current TEG technology produces low power (< 1 mW) at a very low voltage (20-90 mV) and require the load to be matched to the TEG internal resistance for maximum power transfer to occur. This thesis research proposes a power management integrated circuit (PMIC) that steps up ultralow voltages generated by TEGs to a regulated 3 V, while matching the internal resistance.

The proposed boost converter aims to harvest energy from body heat as efficiently and flexibly as possible by providing a regulated 3 V output that can be used by a variable load. A comparator-based burst mode operation affords the converter a high conversion ratio at high efficiency, while fractional open circuit voltage maximum power point tracking ensures that the controller can be used with a variety of TEGs and TEG setups. This control allows the converter to boost input voltages as low as 50 mV, while matching a range of TEG internal source resistances in one stage.

The controller was implemented in 0.25 µm CMOS and taped out in February 2016. Since these fabricated chips will not be completed and delivered until May 2016, functionality has only been verified through simulation. Simulation results are promising and indicate that the peak overall efficiency is 81% and peak low voltage, low power efficiency is 73%. These results demonstrate the the proposed converter can achieve overall efficiencies comparable to current literature and low power efficiencies better than similar wide range converters in literature.



boost converter, energy harvesting, thermoelectric generators, ultralow power IC