Power Electronics / Power Management

Buck/boost converter with ultra-low IQ and supercapacitor charging

24 November 2021 Power Electronics / Power Management

A new bidirectional buck/boost converter with an ultra-low quiescent current (IQ) of 60 nA has been introduced by Texas Instruments. The TPS61094 integrates a buck mode for supercapacitor charging and its ultra-low IQ enables engineers to extend battery life by as much as 20% when compared to commonly used hybrid-layer capacitors (HLCs). Supercapacitor charging and discharging helps support peak loads and backup power, which are important for continuous operation in battery-powered industrial applications such as smart meters, smoke detectors and video doorbells, as well as medical applications.

Engineers designing battery-operated systems frequently face a common design challenge: a need to achieve high efficiency at no- or light-load conditions, in the low milliampere or microampere range. This requires power supplies to regulate their output while maintaining ultra-low supply current in the nanoampere range. The TPS61094 combines two key benefits that are typically trade-offs: the design simplicity of using an integrated buck/boost converter and the extended battery life enabled by high output current and low IQ.

Support for peak loads and backup power from a supercapacitor while maintaining low IQ

Today’s lithium thionyl chloride (LiSOCl) battery-based designs often manage peak load with HLCs that are expensive and sub-optimal for controlling charge current. The TPS61094’s combined low IQ of 60 nA and supercapacitor charging and discharging enable engineers to replace HLCs with supercapacitors for peak load support and to extend battery life as much as 20% in applications that must run on a single battery for 10 years or more.

Similarly, the chip can provide backup power in applications that require safe power-down or last-gasp communication during a power outage.

Twice the output current with ultra-low IQ

In addition to extending battery life, the buck/boost converter has a 2 A inductor current limit in boost operation – double the output current of competitive boost converters.

The additional output current enables the TPS61094 to support radio standards – such as NB-IoT, LTE-M, Wi-SUN, MIOTY, Bluetooth and Wireless M-Bus – over a wider input voltage range. As an example, the converter can support more than 250 mA of output current down to an input voltage of 0,7 V.

Reduce component count and simplify designs

Typical industrial applications such as smart meters require several power components for backup power features or peak load support. Integrating a buck charger and a boost converter into a single IC removes the need for a discrete buck charger, inductor and two external capacitors, which can reduce component count by 50% and free up board space.

Additionally, the integration of the buck charger and boost converter on the TPS61094 allows design engineers to easily control the handshake between all functions, delivering a more seamless transition between operating modes.

The TPS61094 is available in a 2 x 3 mm, 12-pin WSON package. Full and custom quantity reels are available.

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