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Nano-sensor technology increases battery life of earbuds

X-ray of an earbud showing battery and electronics

Nanusens has announced that its proprietary technology, which involves building sensors inside CMOS, can significantly increase the operational life of earbuds by up to 20%.

According to the company this can be achieved by replacing the MEMS sensors in an earbud with a single multi-sensor chip solution that is up to ten times smaller, freeing up space for larger batteries.

Nanusens creates its sensors on the nanoscale within the layers of its CMOS chip that also has the control electronics. The Inter Metal Dielectric (IMD) is etched away through the pad openings in the passivation layer using vapour HF (vHF) to create the nano-sensor structures. The holes are then sealed and the chip packaged as necessary. As only standard CMOS processes with minimal post-processing are used and the sensors can be directly integrated with active circuitry as required, the sensors can potentially have high yields similar to CMOS devices. This also means that the production is fab-independent.

As a result, the NEMS (Nano Electro Mechanical Systems) chip is only one cubic millimetre so this will create a saving of three cubic millimetres for every MEMS package that it replaces. The Nanusens chip only increases slightly with every additional sensor function to accommodate additional control electronics.

The first product from Nanusens will be a 2D motion detector for earbuds in Q4 2019, which can be used to implement tap and double tap for control, wake-on-movement and sleep-on-rest functions, and, soon after, a 3D accelerometer. A bone conduction sensor for noise cancellation is next to be integrated into the single chip solution. Chips will be available in a small package such as WLCSP or as bare die that can be attached directly to the PCB.

"Our nano-sensor technology is very adaptable so we will be using it to create a range of other sensors," Dr Josep Montanyà, CEO Nanusens, explained. "These can be created at the same time in the same chip so many different types of sensors can be built into a tiny multi-sensor solution without taking up more space.

Nanusens believes that its disruptive technology will revolutionise the sensor market and meet the ever-increasing demand for lower cost sensors in smartphones, wearable technology and IoT devices that has already made sensors a multi-billion-dollar industry

Author
Neil Tyler

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