Next Generation Energy-Harvesting Electronics - holistic approach 1763

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Electrical and Electronic Engineering


Whilst the electronics industry is battling with the demand to extend the battery life in the presence of increased functionality through continuing innovation in low power hardware and software, there is a clear opportunity to develop complementary/alternative energy sources for self-powered electronics needed in emerging application areas including mobile digital health, autonomous environmental and industrial monitoring. This is a three-year collaborative research project undertaken by four universities (Bristol, Newcastle, Imperial and Southampton) under three integrated research themes. The project will be carried out in collaboration with five suitably selected industrial partners in line with the research themes and applications: QinetiQ, Zetex, ARM, NXP and Mentor Graphics. Two international experts will also contribute to the project as visiting researchers: Prof. L. Benini, Bologna Uni., and Prof. P. Wright, Berkeley. Our experience, discussions with industry (a recent example is the Batteries Not Included seminar, NXP, Southampton, July 2008, organized by the Electronics Knowledge Transfer Network) and the findings of the recently completed EPSRC-funded Microelectronics Design Grand Challenges Network indicate a consensus that we are entering the era of electronics powered or least augmented, by energy harvesters. Future self-powered applications will require more complex and more compact electronic systems that are intelligent, adaptive and required to perform more computation with less energy. To achieve global optimisation and enhanced functionality, a significant improvement in self-powered electronic design and implementation is required. This can be achieved by adopting an integrated research programme, which takes a holistic design approach to the complex issues surrounding the development of next-generation energy-harvesting systems. In this research programme we propose to take a holistic design approach that will fully consider and exploit the interactions between the micro-generator, power conditioning circutry and computational electronics to make efficient use of the generated energy. The new design methodology will be incorporated into a novel mixed-technology domain modelling, and performance optimization deign toolkit. This design approach is fundamental to ultra energy-efficient design and to the miniaturisation of next-generation wireless electronics. The developed technology, design methods and toolkit will be validated by simulation, experimentation, three ASIC prototypes (adaptive micro-generator, synchronous and asynchronous processors) and a self-powered autonomous wireless sensor node demonstrator for industrial machinery condition monitoring application. To the best of our knowledge, no research programme in Europe or the US has developed a holistic design approach for energy harvesting electronic systems. The proposed three themes are key new areas that require interdisciplinary and inter-institutional collaboration.
Description Research Fish deleted everything that was previously in this box so I cannot reproduce it word for word.

We worked on methods of tuning energy harvesters to make them tunable for use in real world environments for power sensors. We also worked on interface circuits for piezoelectric energy harvesters that gave around twice the usable power output of previously known designs.
Exploitation Route Any company interested in using energy harvesters, or developing energy harvesters will have an interest in the work. There is also significant interest from the academic research community.
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Energy

Description Findings have been disseminated and led to discussions with industry, although nothing concrete has come out of this as yet, but the work did help with securing a grant with ABB. Our general expertise in Energy Harvesting has helped win a Marie Curie training award (722496-ENHANCE).
First Year Of Impact 2010
Sector Energy,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology
Impact Types Economic

Description Industry grant with Airbus
Amount £99,985 (GBP)
Organisation Airbus Group 
Sector Private
Country France
Start 03/2013 
End 02/2014
Description Colaboratoin with UC Berkeley 
Organisation University of California, Berkeley
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Work on the analysis of electromechanical energy harvesters using piezoelectric materials in order to maximise power density when linked to a new circuit architecture.
Start Year 2011
Description Collaboration with Vestfold University College, Norway 
Organisation Vestfold University College, Norway
Country Norway 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This work was a collaboration on mechanical analysis of piezoelectric enregy harvesters with our new interface circuit.
Start Year 2011
Description Cheltenham Science Festival 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I am organising an event on energy harvesting at the Cheltenham Science Festival on energy harvesting and wireless power transfer.

After the session many audience members came and chatted to us. There was clear genuine interest from them - across a broad age range.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013