Nowi and Murata Partner on LoRa Energy Platforms

June 28, 2021 by Alessandro Mascellino

Electronic manufacturer Murata and semiconductor firm Nowi have partnered on the development of long-range (LoRa) energy-autonomous platforms.

The collaboration comes at a time of increasing importance of energy harvesting for IoT platforms, commonly recognized as a substantial element responsible for their improved lifetime, usability, and viability.

The new platform designed by Nowi and Murata. Image used courtesy of Nowi, Murata.
The new platform designed by Nowi and Murata. Image used courtesy of Nowi, Murata.


Developing Innovative Energy Harvesting ICs

Established in Delft, The Netherlands, in 2015, Nowi focuses on the development of power module integrated circuits (PMICs).

The semiconductor firm has designed and manufactured a chip that combines one of the world’s smallest footprints, low cost of Bill of Materials (BOM), and substantially performant harvesting capabilities.

This, according to Nowi, simplifies the design process and lowers the threshold for any company to develop ‘Plug & Forget’ products.

The company was founded by Omar Link and Simon van der Jagt and has so far raised €14 million from Disruptive Technology Ventures.

Today, Nowi counts roughly 30 employees, together with various partners, including TSMC, Panasonic, and Huawei.


Comprehensive Electronics Expertise

Murata needs no introduction. The electronics giant has been designing and manufacturing consumer electronics, automobile-related applications, energy management systems, and healthcare equipment for roughly eight decades.

Throughout the years, Murata has acquired 11 companies, and today counts more than 10,000 employees worldwide.

Headquartered in Kyoto, Japan, the company serves customers in different continents thanks to its global network of manufacturing facilities and sales support.

“Murata contributes to the advancement of society and the electronics industry by creating innovative products and solutions, in close cooperation with our customers and other stakeholders,” reads the firm’s website.

The new collaboration will now see Murata’s ultra-small, ultra-low power consumption LoRa modules to be powered by Nowi energy harvesting PMIC.

“Nowi's small energy harvesting technology and its highly efficient MPPT feature is certainly the perfect sustainable choice to power our world's smallest LoRa modem,” commented Koichi Sorada, Murata Product Manager of IoT Connectivity Modules.

“Our partnership will bolster the initiative to support customers in rapidly developing compact and energy-efficient ‘Plug and Forget’ LoRa solutions,” he added.


A Technical Partnership 

The novel 60 × 65 mm modular platform has been designed to maximize development versatility for end-users, offering LoRa connectivity.

The solution achieves this goal by embedding Murata's 1SJ or ABZ module, then sending the data from the external sensor attached to the onboard sensor socket. 


Nowi's NH2 energy harvesting PMIC. Image used courtesy of Nowi.
Nowi's NH2 energy harvesting PMIC. Image used courtesy of Nowi.

Combining the modules with Nowi's ultra-small NH2 energy harvesting PMIC, it is then possible to achieve simple and fast development of low-cost energy-autonomous LoRa connected products. 

“Murata's 1SJ LoRaWAN modem combines an ultra-small form factor with a top performance which is highly complementary to the unique benefits Nowi energy harvesting PMICs offer,” explained Nowi CEO Simon van der Jagt.

The NH2 PMIC is specially designed to extract power from ambient energy sources, then use it to charge several and different energy storage elements.

On the other hand, Both 1SJ and ABZ are integrated with an STMicro STM32L0 series ARM Cortex M0+ 32 bit microcontroller (MCU), which features a 192 kB flash and 20 KB RAM and offers enough memory to embed customer applications and host other modulation stacks.

“This exciting collaboration offers companies a fast route to achieve energy-autonomous connectivity in their products, by minimizing BOM size, cost and complexity,” van der Jagt concluded.