Innovative High-Voltage Charge Pump

For a smaller footprint in consumer electronics and other devices

The high-­voltage charge pump represents an important advance in reducing the footprint of portable and other electronic devices. Its innovative design enables the use of high­-density, low-­voltage pumping capacitors, which require significantly less area than the high­-voltage pumping capacitors of conventional designs. This innovative charge pump can be implemented using conventional complementary metal­oxide semiconductor (CMOS) technology, which makes it cost­-competitive and simplifies integration with other devices on a single chip. The technology has been proven by fabrication and testing and has achieved output voltages up to 51V.

Originally designed to drive microelectromechanical system (MEMS) gyroscopes, the technology can be applied to a wide array of MEMS electrostatic devices or any other devices requiring high voltage. The MEMS market is expanding rapidly, and this high­-voltage charge pump helps miniaturize the total electronics package in portable consumer devices, computer displays, printers, automotive sensors, and biomedical systems.

Technology Summary

High­-voltage charge pumps take a low-­voltage input and increase that voltage to a higher amount needed to power electronic devices. The KAUST high-­voltage charge pump has an input voltage of 6V and generates an output of up to 51V. By using low­-voltage capacitors, which require less space than high-­voltage capacitors, this innovation reduces the overall area required to implement the charge pump.

side-image (2)How It Works

Typically, charge pump designs use clock and inverse­clock signals to create an additive volt­age effect over a series of capacitor stages. In this scenario, the voltage across the capacitor increases in each stage, which necessitates the use of high­voltage capacitors. The KAUST innova­tion incorporates a special clocking scheme that limits the voltage across each capacitor at one low level, which allows for low­voltage capacitors to be used for all stages. Only the output capacitor stage needs to be a high­-voltage capacitor, which can be off­chip.

Why It Is Better

The KAUST technology offers an important advance for the miniaturiza­tion of consumer and mobile electronic devices. It uses low-­voltage, high-­density capacitors, thereby reducing the overall size of the charge pump. Cell phones, smart phones, portable computers, tablets, and many other electronic devices are increasingly using gyroscopes and other MEMS devices to enhance their functionality, and these applications require the use of charge pump circuits.

IP Protection

KAUST has several patents pending for this technology.

Invention Track Code



  • Reduces overall electronics footprint: Uses high­density, low-voltage capacitors, significantly reducing the overall size of the charge pump
  • Integrates easily at a competitive cost: Uses commercial CMOS technology to provide an easy-­to­-integrate, cost­-competitive charge pump
  • Achieves high voltage output: Requires only 6V input voltage to provide up to 51V of output voltage
  • Offers proven results: Has been prototyped and tested in the lab


  • Cell phones and smart phones
  • Electronic notebooks and tablets
  • Computer displays
  • Disk drives
  • Ink-­jet printer component
  • Biomedical systems
  • Automotive air bags and sensors
  • Gyroscopes, radio-frequency (RF)
  • MEMS, accelerometers, varactors
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