The PowerMEMS conference is the highest tier annual, academic, international conference for the field of energy harvesting. Its objective this year was to catalyse innovation in miniature, micro- and nano-scale technologies for power generation and energy conversion.
Yu Jia’s presentation – titled “A Multi-frequency Operation of a MEMS vibration energy harvester by accessing five orders of parametric resonance” – demonstrated the utilisation of multiple orders of parametric resonance for vibration energy harvesting in a MEMS device to harness a significantly larger amount of the available power spectrum compared to the conventional direct resonant approach.
This is the first time parametric resonance for MEMS vibration energy harvesters has been demonstrated and applied in a practical device. CSIC researchers now anticipate that future iterations of this device will enable a new-generation of self-powered MEMS sensors and augment batteries (by substantially increasing their useful lifetime) used in wireless sensors for monitoring civil infrastructure.
“The results of Yu Jia’s work are important on a number of levels”, commented Ashwin Seshia, co-investigator at CSIC and Yu Jia’s PhD supervisor.
“MEMS devices can be fabricated in commercial foundries using semiconductor batch manufacturing and can enjoy the same cost advantages as other semiconductor components sold in large volume. For example, MEMS accelerometers sold to the mobile phone industry often cost as little as a few pence when produced in large volumes.
“Another advantage is the ability to integrate the vibration energy harvester together with sensors and signal conditioning, computation and wireless telemetry electronics on a chip or a small form-factor package, enabling a pathway for new types of autonomous sensor nodes.”
This investigation uses a fundamentally different resonant approach, which will potentially help bridge the gap between the power generated by MEMS harvesters and the power requirement of low power sensors and other devices employed in wireless sensor networks.
This is significant as currently MEMS vibration energy harvesters are generally considered to generate too little power to be practically useful. However, this new and potentially revolutionary approach will be of real and practical use in the structural health monitoring of the nation’s infrastructure.
Yu’s conference paper is co-authored together with Dr Jize Yan, Professor Kenichi Soga, and Dr Ashwin Seshia.
The conference paper is published under the Journal of Physics conference series and can be downloaded from the IOP Science website