• 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.