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Piezoelectric Bimorph Harvester Based on Different Lead Zirconate Titanate Materials to Enhance Energy Collection

Authors: Irene Perez-Alfaro, Nieves Murillo, Carlos Bernal, Daniel Gil-Hernandez


Nowadays, the increasing applicability of internet of things (IoT) systems has changed the way that the world around is perceived. The massive interconnection of systems by means of sensing, processing and communication, allows multitude of data to be at our fingertips. In this way, countless advances have been made in different fields such as personal care, predictive maintenance in industry, quality control in production processes, security, and in everything imaginable. However, all these electronic systems have in common the need to be electrically powered. In this context, batteries and wires are the most commonly used solutions, but they are not a definitive solution in some applications, because of the attainability, the serviceability, or the performance requirements. Therefore, the need arises to look for other types of solutions based on energy harvesting and long-life electronics. Energy Harvesting can be defined as the action of capturing energy from the environment and store it for an instantaneous use or later use. Among the materials capable of harvesting energy from the environment, such as thermoelectrics, electromagnetics, photovoltaics or triboelectrics, the most suitable is the piezoelectric material. The phenomenon of piezoelectricity is one of the most powerful sources for energy harvesting, ranging from a few micro wats to hundreds of wats, depending on certain factors such as material type, geometry, excitation frequency, mechanical and electrical configurations, among others. In this research work, an exhaustive study is carried out on how different types of piezoelectric materials and electrical configurations influence the maximum power that a bimorph harvester is able to extract from mechanical vibrations. A series of experiments has been carried out in which the manufactured bimorph specimens are excited under fixed inertial vibrational conditions. In addition, in order to evaluate the dependence of the maximum transferred power, different load resistors are tested. In this way, the pure active power that achieves the maximum power transfer can be approximated. In this paper, we present the design of low-cost energy harvesting solutions based on piezoelectric smart materials with tunable frequency. The results obtained show the differences in energy extraction between the PZT materials studied and their electrical configurations. The aim of this work is to gain a better understanding of the behavior of piezoelectric materials, and the design process of bimorph PZT harvesters to optimize environmental energy extraction.

Keywords: Bimorph harvesters, electrical impedance, energy harvesting, piezoelectric, smart material.

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