Nonlinear vibration energy harvesters for powering the internet of things

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Podder, Pranay
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University College Cork
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The ever decreasing power consumption in electronic devices and sensors have facilitated the development of autonomous wireless sensor nodes (WSNs), which ushered in the era of the Internet of Things (IoT). However, the problem of long-term power supply to the numerous WSNs pervasively dispersed to enable the IoT is yet to be resolved. This work focuses on the development of novel vibration energy harvesting (VEH) devices and technologies for effective transduction of mostly wide-band and noisy ambient mechanical vibrations to power WSNs. In this thesis meso-scale and MEMS-scale nonlinear and frequency tunable VEH devices have been designed, fabricated and characterized. The first meso-scale VEH prototype developed in this thesis combines a nonlinear bistable oscillator with mechanical impact induced nonlinearity, which exhibits upto 118% broadening in the frequency response over a standalone bistable system. The second meso-scale prototype combines magnetic repulsion induced bistable nonlinearity with stretching induced monostable cubic nonlinearity in a single device structure. The device effectively merged the beneficial features of the individual nonlinear bistable and monostable systems, and demonstrates upto 85% enhanced spectral performance compared to the bistable device. The third prototype is a MEMS-scale device fabricated using spiral silicon spring structure and double-layer planar micro-coils. A magnetic repulsion induced frequency tuning mechanism was incorporated in the prototype, and it was demonstrated that both linear and nonlinear hysteretic frequency responses could be tuned (by upto 18.6%) to match various ambient vibration frequencies. In order to enhance the power generating capability of MEMS-scale electromagnetic devices, an ultra-dense multi-layer micro-coil architecture has been developed. The proposed ultra-dense micro-coil is designed to incorporate double number of turns within the same volume as a conventional micro-coil, and significantly enhance the magnetic flux linkage gradient resulting in higher power output (~4 times). However, attempts to fabricate the ultra-dense coil have not been successful due to lack of proper insulation between the successive coil layers. Finally, a power management system combining diode equivalent low voltage drop (DELVD) circuit and a boost regulator module was developed. It was demonstrated that energy harvested from harmonic and bandlimited random vibrations using linear, nonlinear bistable, and combined nonlinear VEH devices could be conditioned into usable electricity by the power management system with 60% - 75% efficiency. In addition to developing new prototypes and techniques, this thesis recommends directions towards future research for further improvement in vibration energy harvesting devices and technologies.
MEMS , Nonlinear , Energy harvesting , Silicon , Electromagnetic device , Micro-fabrication
Podder, P. 2017. Nonlinear vibration energy harvesters for powering the internet of things. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.