PORTLAND, Ore.—Electrical engineers from the University of Michigan claim to have invented a technique for micro-machining piezoelectric MEMS that generate 10-times more energy than conventional energy harvesters. The research team said a penny-sized piezoelectric MEMS could generate enough electricity to power medical implants in the body and wireless sensors on motor vehicles.
The energy harvester market for wireless sensor networks is expected to $450 million by 2015, according to Erkan Aktakka, one of the system's developers, working in the lab of professor Khalil Najafi, principle scientist on the project.
The team packaged its bulk micro-machined MEMS together with tiny circuit elements that form a complete vibration energy harvester in just 27 cubic millimeters. The tiny unit can harvest vibrational energy between 14-and-155 cycles-per-second (Hz) to produce about 200 microWatts from 1.5g vibrations. The energy harvester charges a supercapacitor to 1.85 volts, whereupon it powers-up the wireless sensor whose battery is it replacing. The researchers estimate the energy harvester could repeat this cycle for 10-to-20 years without degradation.
Details of the design will be revealed by the researchers in a presentation at Transducers 2011 (June 5-9, Beijing).
Funding was provided by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network.
Self-contained energy harvester converts vibrations into electricity using bulk micromachined piezoelectrics.
This sensor can be used to monitor the different types of machinaries mainly to monitor their performance. Example if the vibration seen is less the productivity is less and if the vibration monitored is more the wear and tear is more.This will be a call for maintance.This tiny system has good number of applications in the industrail process control areas.
This is a good news. The body implants working on self generated electrical energy for up to 20 years is something fantastic. This enables body implants to be fitted in the critical functions of the body without the need to change the battery . What could possibly be other application areas for such sensors?