by sajjad Haidar @ edn.com:
A simple blocking oscillator circuit can be used to step up voltage using properties of coil inductance (V = L di/dt). Such a circuit is shown in Figure 1, which is more commonly called a Joule thief.
The output will be pulses of voltage that can be filtered using a diode and capacitor. As there is no regulation, the output voltage will vary with the input voltage or load. As this circuit uses a BJT, the supply voltage needs to be at least 0.7V to work, and with enhancement-mode MOSFETs, the supply voltage must usually be even higher.
MOSFET-based Joule Thief steps up voltage – [Link]