• Cantilevers-on-membrane design for broadband MEMS piezoelectric vibration energy harvesting

      Jia, Yu; Du, Sijun; Seshia, Ashwin A.; University of Chester; University of Cambridge (IOP Publishing, 2015-12-01)
      Most MEMS piezoelectric vibration energy harvesters involve either cantilever-based topologies, doubly-clamped beams or membrane structures. While these traditional designs offer simplicity, their frequency response for broadband excitation are typically inadequate. This paper presents a new integrated cantilever-on-membrane design that attempts to both optimise the strain distribution on a piezoelectric membrane resonator and improve the power responsiveness of the harvester for broadband excitation. While a classic membrane-based resonator has the potential to theoretically offer wider operational frequency bandwidth than its cantilever counterpart, the addition of a centred proof mass neutralises its otherwise high strain energy regions. The proposed topology addresses this issue by relocating the proof mass onto subsidiary cantilevers and integrates the merits of both the membrane and the cantilever designs. When experimentally subjected to a band-limited white noise excitation, up to approximately two folds of power enhancement was observed for the new membrane harvester compared to a classic plain membrane device.
    • Connection Configurations to Increase Operational Range and Output Power of Piezoelectric MEMS Vibration Energy Harvesters

      Du, Sijun; Chen, Shao-Tuan; Jia, Yu; Arroyo, Emmanuelle; Seshia, Ashwin A.; University of Cambridge; University of Chester (IOP Publishing, 2016-09-06)
      Among the various methods of extracting energy harvested by a piezoelectric vibration energy harvester, full-bridge rectifiers (FBR) are widely employed due to its simplicity and stability. However, its efficiency and operational range are limited due to a threshold voltage that the open-circuit voltage generated from the piezoelectric transducer (PT) must attain prior to any energy extraction. This voltage linearly depends on the output voltage of the FBR and the forward voltage drop of diodes and the nature of the interface can significantly limit the amount of extracted energy under low excitation levels. In this paper, a passive scheme is proposed to split the electrode of a micromachined PT into multiple (n) equal regions, which are electrically connected in series. The power output from such a series connected MEMS PT allows for the generated voltage to readily overcome the threshold set by the FBR. Theoretical calculations have been performed in this paper to assess the performance for different series stages (n values) and the theory has been experimentally validated. The results show that a PT with more series stages (high n values) improves the efficiency of energy extraction relative to the case with fewer series-connected stages under weak excitation levels.
    • An Efficient Inductor-less Dynamically Configured Interface Circuit for Piezoelectric Vibration Energy Harvesting

      Du, Sijun; Jia, Yu; Seshia, Ashwin A.; University of Cambridge; University of Chester (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, 2016-07-07)
      Vibration energy harvesting based on piezoelectric materials is of interest in several applications such as in powering remote distributed wireless sensor nodes for structural health monitoring. Synchronized Switch Harvesting on Inductor (SSHI) and Synchronous Electric Charge Extraction (SECE) circuits show good power efficiency among reported power management circuits; however, limitations exist due to inductors employed, adaption of response to varying excitation levels and the Synchronized Switch Damping (SSD) effect. In this paper, an inductor-less dynamically configured interface circuit is proposed, which is able to configure the connection of two piezoelectric materials in parallel or in series by periodically evaluating the ambient excitation level. The proposed circuit is designed and fabricated in a 0:35 μm HV CMOS process.The fabricated circuit is co-integrated with a piezoelectric bimorph energy harvester and the performance is experimentally validated. With a low power consumption (0:5 μW), the measured results show that the proposed rectifier can provide a 4.5 boost in harvested energy compared to the conventional full-bridge rectifier without employing an inductor. It also shows a high power efficiency over a wide range of excitation levels and is less susceptible to SSD.
    • An Efficient SSHI Interface With Increased Input Range for Piezoelectric Energy Harvesting Under Variable Conditions

      Du, Sijun; Jia, Yu; Do, Cuong D.; Seshia, Ashwin A.; University of Cambridge; University of Chester (IEEE, 2016-08-10)
      Piezoelectric vibration energy harvesters have been widely researched and are increasingly employed for powering wireless sensor nodes. The synchronized switch harvesting on inductor (SSHI) circuit is one of the most efficient interfaces for piezoelectric vibration energy harvesters. However, the traditional incarnation of this circuit suffers from a significant start-up issue that limits operation in low and variable amplitude vibration environments. This paper addresses this start-up issue for the SSHI rectifier by proposing a new architecture with SSHI startup circuitry. The startup circuitry monitors if the SSHI circuit is operating correctly and re-starts the SSHI interface if required. The proposed circuit is comprehensively analyzed and experimentally validated through tests conducted by integrating a commercial piezoelectric vibration energy harvester with the new interface circuit designed in a 0.35-μm HV CMOS process. Compared to conventional SSHI rectifiers, the proposed circuit significantly decreases the required minimum input excitation amplitude before energy can be harvested, making it possible to extract energy over an increased excitation range.
    • Eight parametric resonances in a multi-frequency wideband MEMS piezoelectric vibration energy harvester

      Jia, Yu; Du, Sijun; Seshia, Ashwin A.; University of Cambridge; University of Chester (IEEE, 2016-01-24)
      This paper presents a multi-order parametric resonant MEMS piezoelectric disk membrane, for the purpose of broadening the operational frequency bandwidth of a vibration energy harvester by employing the nonlinearity-induced bandwidth broadening associated with this phenomenon as well as the multi-frequency response associated with the higher orders. The fundamental mode -3dB bandwidth at 2.0 g recorded 55 Hz, while the first parametric resonant peak exhibited 365 Hz and the -3dB of the first 8 orders accumulated to 604 Hz. The membrane parametric resonator also experimentally demonstrated over 3-folds improvement in power density compared to a conventional direct resonator (cantilever), when subjected to band-limited white noise.
    • Experimental and theoretical study of a piezoelectric vibration energy harvester under high temperature

      Arroyo, Emmanuelle; Jia, Yu; Du, Sijun; Chen, Shao-Tuan; Seshia, Ashwin A.; University of Cambridge; University of Chester (IEEE, 2017-08-01)
      This paper focuses on studying the effect of increasing the ambient temperature up to 160 °C on the power harvested by an MEMS piezoelectric micro-cantilever manufactured using an aluminum nitride-on-silicon fabrication process. An experimental study shows that the peak output power decreases by 60% to 70% depending on the input acceleration. A theoretical study establishes the relationship of all important parameters with temperature and includes them into a temperature-dependent model. This model shows that around 50% of the power drop can be explained by a decreasing quality factor, and that thermal stresses account for around 30% of this decrease.
    • High temperature performance of a piezoelectric micro cantilever for vibration energy harvesting

      Arroyo, Emmanuelle; Jia, Yu; Du, Sijun; Chen, Shao-Tuan; Seshia, Ashwin A. (IOP Publishing, 2016-12-06)
      Energy harvesters withstanding high temperatures could provide potentially unlimited energy to sensor nodes placed in harsh environments, where manual maintenance is difficult and costly. Experimental results on a classical microcantilever show a 67% drop of the maximum power when the temperature is increased up to 160 °C. This decrease is investigated using a lumped-parameters model which takes into account variations in material parameters with temperature, damping increase and thermal stresses induced by mismatched thermal coefficients in a composite cantilever. The model allows a description of the maximum power evolution as a function of temperature and input acceleration. Simulation results further show that an increase in damping and the apparition of thermal stresses are contributing to the power drop at 59% and 13% respectively.
    • Maximizing Output Power in a Cantilevered Piezoelectric Vibration Energy Harvester by Electrode Design

      Du, Sijun; Jia, Yu; Seshia, Ashwin A.; University of Cambridge; University of Chester (IOP Publishing, 2015-12-01)
      A resonant vibration energy harvester typically comprises of a clamped anchor and a vibrating shuttle with a proof mass. Piezoelectric materials are embedded in locations of high strain in order to transduce mechanical deformation into electric charge. Conventional design for piezoelectric vibration energy harvesters (PVEH) usually utilizes piezoelectric material and metal electrode layers covering the entire surface area of the cantilever with no consideration provided to examining the trade-off involved with respect to maximizing output power. This paper reports on the theory and experimental verification underpinning optimization of the active electrode area of a cantilevered PVEH in order to maximize output power. The analytical formulation utilizes Euler-Bernoulli beam theory to model the mechanical response of the cantilever. The expression for output power is reduced to a fifth order polynomial expression as a function of the electrode area. The maximum output power corresponds to the case when 44% area of the cantilever is covered by electrode metal. Experimental results are also provided to verify the theory.
    • Micromachined cantilevers-on-membrane topology for broadband vibration energy harvesting

      Jia, Yu; Du, Sijun; Seshia, Ashwin A.; University of Cambridge; University of Chester (IOP Publishing, 2016-10-17)
      The overwhelming majority of microelectromechanical piezoelectric vibration energy harvesting topologies have been based on cantilevers, doubly-clamped beams or basic membranes. While these conventional designs offer simplicity, their broadband responses have been limited thus far. This paper investigates the feasibility of a new integrated cantilevers-on-membrane design that explores the optimisation of piezoelectric strain distribution and improvement of the broadband power output. While a classic membrane has the potential to offer a broader resonant peak than its cantilever counterpart, the inclusion of a centred proof mass compromises its otherwise high strain energy regions. The proposed topology addresses this issue by relocating the proof mass onto subsidiary cantilevers and combines the merits of both the membrane and the cantilever designs. Numerical simulations, constructed using fitted values based on finite element models, were used to investigate the broadband response of the proposed design in contrast to a classic plain membrane. Experimentally, when subjected to a band-limited white noise excitation, the new cantilevers-on-membrane harvester exhibited nearly two fold power output enhancement when compared to a classic plain membrane harvester of a comparable size.
    • A micromachined device describing over a hundred orders of parametric resonance

      Jia, Yu; Du, Sijun; Arroyo, Emmanuelle; Seshia, Ashwin A.; University of Cambridge; University of Chester (AIP Publishing, 2018-04-24)
      Parametric resonance in mechanical oscillators can onset from the periodic modulation of at least one of the system parameters, and the behaviour of the principal (1st order) parametric resonance has long been well established. However, the theoretically predicted higher orders of parametric resonance, in excess of the first few orders, have mostly been experimentally elusive due to the fast diminishing instability intervals. A recent paper experimentally reported up to 28 orders in a micromachined membrane oscillator. This paper reports the design and characterisation of a micromachined membrane oscillator with a segmented proof mass topology, in an attempt to amplify the inherent nonlinearities within the membrane layer. The resultant oscillator device exhibited up to over a hundred orders of parametric resonance, thus experimentally validating these ultra-high orders as well as overlapping instability transitions between these higher orders. This research introduces design possibilities for the transducer and dynamic communities, by exploiting the behaviour of these previously elusive higher order resonant regimes.
    • A New Electrode Design Method in Piezoelectric Vibration Energy Harvesters to Maximize Output Power

      Du, Sijun; Jia, Yu; Chen, Shao-Tuan; Zhao, Chun; Sun, Boqian; Arroyo, Emmanuelle; Seshia, Ashwin A.; University of Cambridge; University of Chester (Elsevier, 2017-07-19)
      A resonant vibration energy harvester typically comprises of a clamped anchor and a vibrating shuttle with a proof mass. Piezoelectric materials are embedded in locations of high strain in order to transduce mechanical deformation into electrical charge. Conventional design for piezoelectric vibration energy harvesters (PVEH) usually utilizes piezoelectric materials and metal electrode layers covering the entire surface area of the cantilever with no consideration provided to examine the trade-off involved with respect to maximize output power. This paper reports on the theory and experimental verification underpinning optimization of the active electrode area in order to maximize output power. The calculations show that, in order to maximize the output power of a PVEH, the electrode should cover the piezoelectric layer from the peak strain area to a position, where the strain is a half of the average strain in all the previously covered area. With the proposed electrode design, the output power can be improved by 145% and 126% for a cantilever and a clamped-clamped beam, respectively. MEMS piezoelectric harvesters are fabricated to experimentally validate the theory.
    • Piezoelectric vibration energy harvesting: A connection configuration scheme to increase operational range and output power

      Du, Sijun; Jia, Yu; Seshia, Ashwin A.; University of Cambridge; University of Chester (SAGE, 2016-12-12)
      For a conventional monolithic piezoelectric transducer (PT) using a full-bridge rectifier, there is a threshold voltage that the open-circuit voltage measured across the PT must attain prior to any transfer of energy to the storage capacitor at the output of the rectifier. This threshold voltage usually depends on the voltage of the storage capacitor and the forward voltage drop of diodes. This article presents a scheme of splitting the electrode of a monolithic piezoelectric vibration energy harvester into multiple (n) equal regions connected in series in order to provide a wider operating voltage range and higher output power while using a full-bridge rectifier as the interface circuit. The performance of different series stage numbers has been theoretically studied and experimentally validated. The number of series stages (n≥1n≥1) can be predefined for a particular implementation, which depends on the specified operating conditions, to achieve optimal performance. This enables the system to attain comparable performance compared to active interface circuits under an increased input range while no additional active circuits are required and the system is comparatively less affected by synchronized switching damping effect.
    • Real-world evaluation of a self-startup SSHI rectifier for piezoelectric vibration energy harvesting

      Du, Sijun; Jia, Yu; Zhao, Chun; Chen, Shao-Tuan; Seshia, Ashwin A.; University of Cambridge; University of Chester (Elsevier, 2017-08-02)
      This paper presents an enhanced SSHI (synchronized switch harvesting on inductor) rectifier with startup circuit and representative environment validation using real world vibration data collected from a tram. Compared to a conventional SSHI rectifier, the proposed rectifier dynamically monitors the working status of the circuit and restarts it when necessary. The proposed rectifier is designed in a 0.35 μm HV CMOS process and its performance is experimentally evaluated. With a 500-second real-world collected vibration data, the conventional and the proposed SSHI rectifiers record average power performance improvements by 9.2× and 22× respectively, compared to a passive full-bridge rectifier. As the startup circuit helps restart the SSHI rectifier several times, it is able to extract energy in an increased excitation range and its average power output performance is 2.4× higher than a conventional SSHI rectifier.
    • Shock Reliability Enhancement for MEMS Vibration Energy Harvesters with Nonlinear Air Damping as Soft Stopper

      Chen, Shao-Tuan; Du, Sijun; Arroyo, Emmanuelle; Jia, Yu; Seshia, Ashwin A.; University of Cambridge; University of Chester (IOP Publishing, 2017-09-20)
      This paper presents a novel application of utilising nonlinear air damping as soft mechanical stopper to increase the shock reliability for MEMS vibration energy harvesters. Theoretical framework for nonlinear air damping is constructed for MEMS vibration energy harvesters operating in different air pressure levels, and characterisation experiments are conducted to establish the relationship between air pressure and nonlinear air damping coefficient for rectangular cantilever MEMS micro cantilevers with different proof masses. Design guidelines on choosing the optimal air pressure level for different MEMS vibration energy harvesters based on the trade-off between harvestable energy and the device robustness is presented, and random excitation experiments are performed to verify the robustness of MEMS vibration energy harvesters with nonlinear air damping as soft stoppers to limit the maximum deflection distance and increase the shock reliability of the device.
    • Twenty-Eight Orders of Parametric Resonance in a Microelectromechanical Device for Multi-band Vibration Energy Harvesting

      Jia, Yu; Du, Sijun; Seshia, Ashwin A.; University of Cambridge; University of Chester (Nature Publishing Group, 2016-07-22)
      This paper contends to be the first to report the experimental observation of up to 28 orders of parametric resonance, which has thus far only been envisioned in the theoretical realm. While theory has long predicted the onset of n orders of parametric resonance, previously reported experimental observations have been limited up to about the first 5 orders. This is due to the rapid narrowing nature of the frequency bandwidth of the higher instability intervals, making practical accessibility increasingly more difficult. Here, the authors have experimentally confirmed up to 28 orders of parametric resonance in a micromachined membrane resonator when electrically undamped. While the implication of this finding spans across the vibration dynamics and transducer application spectrum, the particular significance of this work is to broaden the accumulative operational frequency bandwidth of vibration energy harvesting for enabling self-powered microsystems. Up to 5 orders were recorded when driven at 1.0g of acceleration across a matched load of 70kΩ. With a natural frequency of 980Hz, the fundamental mode direct resonance had a −3dB bandwidth of 55Hz, in contrast to the 314Hz for the first order parametric resonance; furthermore, the half power bands of all 5 orders accumulated to 478Hz.
    • Utilising Nonlinear Air Damping as a Soft Mechanical Stopper for MEMS Vibration Energy Harvesting

      Chen, Shao-Tuan; Du, Sijun; Arroyo, Emmanuelle; Jia, Yu; Seshia, Ashwin A.; University of Cambridge; University of Chester (IOP Publishing, 2016-12-06)
      This paper reports on the theory and experimental verification of utilising air damping as a soft stopper mechanism for piezoelectric vibration energy harvesting to enhance shock resistance. Experiments to characterise device responsiveness under various vibration conditions were performed at different air pressure levels, and a dimensionless model was constructed with nonlinear damping terms included to model PVEH response. The relationship between the quadratic damping coefficient ζ n and air pressure is empirically established, and an optimal pressure level is calculated to trade off harvestable energy and device robustness for specific environmental conditions.
    • A vibration powered wireless mote on the Forth Road Bridge

      Jia, Yu; Yan, Jize; Feng, Tao; Du, Sijun; Fidler, Paul; Soga, Kenichi; Middleton, Campbell; Seshia, Ashwin A.; University of Chester; University of Cambridge (IOP Publishing, 2015-12-01)
      The conventional resonant-approaches to scavenge kinetic energy are typically confined to narrow and single-band frequencies. The vibration energy harvester device reported here combines both direct resonance and parametric resonance in order to enhance the power responsiveness towards more efficient harnessing of real-world ambient vibration. A packaged electromagnetic harvester designed to operate in both of these resonant regimes was tested in situ on the Forth Road Bridge. In the field-site, the harvester, with an operational volume of ~126 cm3, was capable of recovering in excess of 1 mW average raw AC power from the traffic-induced vibrations in the lateral bracing structures underneath the bridge deck. The harvester was integrated off-board with a power conditioning circuit and a wireless mote. Duty- cycled wireless transmissions from the vibration-powered mote was successfully sustained by the recovered ambient energy. This limited duration field test provides the initial validation for realising vibration-powered wireless structural health monitoring systems in real world infrastructure, where the vibration profile is both broadband and intermittent.