Dracula Technologies, STMicroelectronics unveil photovoltaic illuminometer


At Embedded World, a trade fair held in Germany last week, a prototype of an illuminometer powered by an organic PV (OPV) module replacing the traditional coin battery was on display. It is a result of collaboration between France’s Dracula Technologies, an OPV module manufacturer, and STMicroelectronics, a Swiss-headquartered semiconductor company with production sites in Italy and France.

An illuminometer is an instrument for measuring light intensity and brightness, also known as a lux meter.

The two companies said in a statement that the energy harvesting performance of the OPV module is designed to excel in low-light, sub-500 lux conditions and matches well with a new low-power microcontroller unit, named STM32U0.

The pairing enables battery-free or autonomous sensors and connected devices serving industrial, medical, smart metering and retail markets, as well as consumer health and wellness applications. “Our Layer technology allows customers of both companies to power and operate autonomously a complete device using the latest STM32U0 microcontroller unit,” Jerome Vernet, Dracula Technologies vice president of sales, told pv magazine.

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Commenting on the collaboration, Thierry Bousquet, marketing manager for the STM32 ultra-low power product line at STMicroelectronics, said in a statement: “One of the STM32U0 demos that garnered a lot of attention is an illuminometer built using Dracula Technologies’ OPV module. It runs on a small photovoltaic panel receiving only 5 lux instead of the traditional coin battery.”

To give an idea of the Dracula Technologies technology, an evaluation board available for purchase has a functional area of 47 mm x 57 mm weighing 1.66 g. At 1,000 lux, the current is 322 mA and the power output is 750 mW at 2.85 V.

Founded in 2011, Dracula has announced factory plans with a capacity to produce up to 150 million cm² of its printed OPV products annually.  More recently, it announced a new product that integrates its PV modules with a supercapacitor in a single thin film-based component, designed to store energy for periods without ambient light and replace conventional batteries in connected devices.

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