Energy Harvesting Technology Allows for Power Generation at Any Time

The activities of any organism and nature generate different forms of energy on a perpetual basis. In turn, different forms of energy ceaselessly convert into different modes, including kinetics energy, photovoltaic energy, heat energy, and electric energy. For example, kinetic energy will be generated when human beings walk, this form of energy can be converted to other forms of energy such as electric energy. Electric energy generated from this source is too low in capacity and was difficult to harvest and use in the past. The advancement of technology gives way to the development of materials and technologies, to the extent that this weak electric energy can be harvested and collected for application to different wearable devices. This is a solution for the insufficient power supply for wearable devices.

Piezo film sensor helps to convert pressure to electricity

The application of electric power generation from vibration and pressure is indeed not new. The application of this technology to microphones is a typical example. It is based on the principle of the piezoelectric phenomenon. Curie Brothers discovered this phenomenon more than a century ago. In 1917, the First World War gave way to the development of submarine sonar by Frenchman Paul Langevin for detecting the activities of submarines in the deep sea. This device is based on the principle of the piezoelectric transducer for detecting the source of the sound and is the earliest application of piezoelectric phenomenon. The discovery of the piezoelectric effect has been extensively applied to different products in our daily lives.   

There are numerous materials for energy conversion that can convert one form of energy to another, and is extensively applied to different types of sensors. The amazing growth of microprocessor triggered the demand for sensors in different applications. In the sensor market valued at USD18 billion, piezoelectric polymer sensors are the area of fastest growth. Like many other new technologies, the use of piezo film sensor as a solution will be considered for a number of applications. After 20 years of technological development, piezoelectric polymer allows for the extensive use of this technology in application to piezoelectric film. Likewise, commercialization of this technology also significantly accelerated.

The piezo film sensor developed by TE Connectivity is a type of piezo fluoropolymer film, and it is a key component for different applications and markets in acceleration, vibration, or dynamic switch devices. It features a unique function to generate a proportional relation between the power voltage and loading with a change in shape. Piezo film is suitable for different customized designs, structures and applications, including the widely used piezo cable. From security applications to musical instruments, the use of piezo film is almost everywhere.

Piezo film sensor is a kind of flexible, lightweight, and tenacious engineering plastic in different dimensions and shapes to fit different applications. It supports wide frequency range from 0.001Hz to 108Hz in vast dynamic range (10-8 to 106psi or μ Torr to Mbar), with low acoustic impedance approximating water and human tissue, and is also highly flexible to support high voltage output. Under the same input power, it can generate power voltage 10 times of the piezo ceramic.

Piezo film sensor features higher dielectric strength and can resist strong electric field (75V/μm) under which most piezo ceramic will be depolarized. The high mechanical strength of 109—1010 Pascal and shock resistance entails high stability and resistance to moisture (<0.02% of moisture absorption), most chemical substances, and oxidation, and also strong UV ray and nuclear radiation. It can be fabricated into unusual designs and be glued by commercial adhesives.

Energy harvesting is a technology for the harvesting of energy from the surrounding environment with the use of an energy-harvesting device. In general, this technology is based on the physical principles of electromagnetic, thermal electric, solar photovoltaic and piezoelectric energy for harvesting ambient energy from sources such as wind, water, light, heat, and mechanical energy for conversion into convenient use electric energy. For example, if a piezo film sensor is placed inside the padding for shoes or under the carpet, the vibration and pressure from people in walking will generate electricity. Through the energy harvesting technology, electricity generated from this source will be fed to wearable devices as the power supply. With this on hand, power supply for wearable devices will no longer be a problem. No built-in battery is required, which otherwise adds additional weight to the devices. This will be a critical issue for consideration for the popularity of wearable devices.

Furthermore, there will be more and more IoT network nodes that require a power supply. Wearable devices and portable health care items will be ideal without the burden of a battery. If energy harvesting technology can be applied, the problem of power supply for IoT devices can be solved. Related energy harvesting technologies have been developed at an amazing pace. In the future, we expect more miracle products to help us solve the problem of power supply for electronic devices. 

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