A system capable of effectively and efficiently extracting useful power from low-level ambient sources.

About

Advances in low-power electronics and distributed systems have generated interest in small-scale power supply systems that harness energy from ambient sources. Low-power and distributed systems have also added to the portability of electronic devices, lessened dependency on wiring, and emphasized the search for reliable in-situ power generation. Harvesting useful power from ambient energy sources has shown great potential for powering wireless electronics in a wide range of applications, but current methods suffer from inefficiencies that often stem from low rates of energy extraction and circuitry complexity.

Researchers at the University of Hawaii have developed a system capable of effectively and efficiently extracting useful power from low-level ambient sources. This is achieved with:

A charge-carrying moveable electrode,
A reference electrode, and
Multiple dielectric regions.

These dielectric regions differ in capacitance and therefore also surface charge density. Low-power ambient energy (such as vibrational) causes the moveable electrode to oscillate between the dielectric regions, resulting in effective and efficient energy accumulation.

Key Benefits

Practical – System efficiently and effectively extracts useful power from low-level ambient energy
Innovative – Harvesting “free” unused energy enables advancement of new technologies previously considered impractical
Versatile – Simple and elegant design allows for integration in a wide range of electronic devices
Environmentally Friendly – System removes the need to involve harmful/hazardous chemicals currently used to power many devices

Applications

Self-powered sensors
Biomedical implants
Internet of things
Remote monitoring
Portable electronics

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