Tetherless sensors have long been positioned to enable next generation applications in biomedical, environmental, and industrial sectors. The main challenge in enabling these advancements is the realization of a device that is compact, robust over time, and highly efficient. This paper presents a tetherless optical tag which utilizes optical energy harvesting to realize scalable self-powered devices. Unlike previous demonstrations of optically coupled sensor nodes, the device presented here amplifies signals and encodes data on the same optical beam that provides its power. This optical interrogation modality results in a highly efficient data link. These optical tags support data rates up to 10 Mb/s with an energy consumption of ~ 3 pJ/bit. As a proof-of-concept application, the optical tag is combined with a spintronic microwave detector based on a magnetic tunnel junction (MTJ). We used this hybrid opto-spintronic system to perform self-powered transduction of RF waves at 1 GHz to optical frequencies at ~ 200 THz, while carrying an audio signal across (see Supplementary Data for audio files).
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