Imec and Holst Centre announce that they have made a micromachined harvester for vibration energy with a record output power of 489µW. Measurements and simulation show that the harvester is also suited for shock-induced energy harvesting in car tires, where it could power built-in sensors. In a tire, at 70km/h, the new device can deliver a constant 42µW, which is enough to power a simple wireless sensor node.
Micromachined vibration harvesters such as these are ideal devices to generate electricity from machines, engines and other industrial appliances which vibrate or undergo repetitive shocks. In these environments, they will power miniaturized autonomous sensor nodes, in situations where battery replacement is not sustainable or practical. Harvesters will allow sustainable monitoring on a massive scale. One example is Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS) and its successors: a car tire with built-in sensors that monitor e.g. the tire integrity and pressure, the road condition, or the driving style.
Chris Van Hoof of IMEC described how wafer-level integration of CMOS circuits and MEMS can be used to create electrostatic vibrational-energy harvesters as well as for thermocouple-based thermal energy harvesters.
Gang Chen of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology discussed novel thermoelectric nanocomposite materials with enhanced efficiency for application in thermoelectric power generators.
Michael Flynn of the University of Michigan discussed the challenges and opportunities in for building small microsystems that are powered using harvested RF energy.
Dennis Buss of Texas Instruments reviewed the state-of-the-art in energy-efficient digital signal processing and ultra-low power CMOS implementation of same for remote wireless sensor networks and medical electronics.
Craig Schmidt of Medtronic provided a critical comparison of energy harvest sources versus form-factor equivalent battery technologies, for possible application in implantable medical electronics.