MaxLife concept diagram. Lifetime cycles are increased, but not a big improvement in energy density (via TI)
Texas Instruments is one of the most dominant technology companies ever. Behind Intel and Samsung, it is the world's third largest producer of semiconductors. In addition, they are the largest manufacturer of digital signal processors and analog semiconductors. Young students may just know of TI as producers of their world famous graphing calculators. However, for the older, more experienced students, they quickly learn TI has technology that can be found everywhere. In fact, many of the ICs used for basic electronics are all created by TI.
There is also one additional area TI's technology excels at. That would be in energy efficient electronics. One of the more popular devices is the MSP 430 microcontroller family. These MCUs allow developers to create embedded applications, which can manage power extremely efficient. The CPU can work with speeds up to 25 MHz or can be lowered to save power in applications. More importantly, the MCU has a low power idle mode. When working in this mode the CPU will draw as little as 1 micro-Amp of current. Along with the low power capabilities, this MCU can also work with all the usual embedded electronics communication protocols and peripherals.
As of late, TI has been trying their hand at a new energy saving technology. That would be battery management chips. Back in March, they released their bq2419x family of chips, which were claimed to have the potential to reduce charging times to half their current lengths. This was an extremely demanding technology which many companies wanted a piece of. This is largely due in part to the emergence of tablets and smart phones. All Android users are well aware of the battery draining apps we all so often use. TI is the company looking to provide a solution to ease all of our frustrations.
As of recently, TI has announced the release of a few more energy efficient chips. Collectively, they are known as MaxLife chip sets. These include bq27530 and bq27531 fuel gauge circuits, which will be working alongside the bq2416x and bq2419x chargers. Together they are expected to provide faster charging times and increase the longevity of batteries by up to 30 percent. The charger is directly controlled through an autonomous battery management system, which provides users with greater flexibility. For example, due to the autonomous control there is less software overhead to help designers integrate it more easily into systems. Additionally, it provides better thermal management and battery safety.
The MaxLife technology from TI is now available in a development kit. The development kit features a bq27531 fuel gauge connected via I2C to a bq24192 charger. Using such combinations charging up to 4.5Amps can be achieved for single cell lithium ion batteries. This is one of the first successful technologies, which will allow batteries to charge faster without damaging the battery. I do not believe it will be long before we see these chips integrated into consumer products.
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