In this design note a battery voltage is boosted by a charge-pump voltage doubler, the MAX1683, and stepped down to the desired level by a micropower linear regulator, the MAX1615. A single-cell regulator circuit maintains a 5V output without inductors.
A similar version of this article appeared in the October 4, 1999 issue of EE Times magazine.
Switched-capacitor charge pumps, which offer a size advantage over the equivalent inductor-based regulator, are popular for boosting the battery voltage in small handheld equipment. As an example, the subscriber identification module (SIM) in European cellular phones requires a regulated 5V for powering low-current loads. One such circuit (Figure 1) employs two tiny SOT-23 ICs and three surface-mount capacitors to double and post-regulate the voltage of a single Li+ battery. It delivers 15mA from a 2.7V minimum output voltage.
Battery voltage is boosted by a charge-pump voltage doubler with 2V–5.5V input range (IC1), and stepped down to the desired level by a micropower linear regulator (IC2). As the battery discharges, the system compensates declining voltage with an increase in efficiency, reaching 84% at 2.8V (Figure 2). Because the SIM and other smart cards are used only a few times a day and for less than a second each time, one can sacrifice some efficiency for smaller size and lower cost. The circuit's low quiescent current ranges from 60µA at 2.6V to 80µA at 3.6V.