New energy-harvesting device could power self-powered IoT sensors

A groundbreaking discovery has been made by an international research group, who have successfully engineered a cutting-edge energy-generating device. This innovative device combines piezoelectric composites with carbon fiber-reinforced polymer (CFRP), a lightweight and durable material widely used in various industries. By harnessing vibrations from the surrounding environment, the device efficiently converts them into electricity, providing a reliable source of power for self-powered sensors.

The research findings, which were recently published in the esteemed journal Nano Energy on June 13, 2023, highlight the importance of energy harvesting in ensuring a sustainable future. Converting environmental energy into usable electrical energy has become crucial, especially with the proliferation of interconnected devices as part of the Internet of Things (IoT). Many of these devices are equipped with sensors that gather data, but their functionality heavily relies on a stable power supply, which can be challenging in remote areas or when dealing with a large number of devices.

The team of researchers, led by Professor Fumio Narita from Tohoku University’s Graduate School of Environmental Studies, explored the potential of combining piezoelectric vibration energy harvesting (PVEH) with CFRP. Piezoelectric materials can generate electricity when subjected to physical stress, making them ideal for harnessing vibrational energy. On the other hand, CFRP is known for its strength and lightweight properties, making it a preferred material in industries such as aerospace, automotive, sports equipment, and medical devices.

The researchers fabricated the new device by integrating potassium sodium niobate (KNN) nanoparticles with epoxy resin, combined with CFRP acting as both an electrode and a reinforcement substrate. This novel device, referred to as the C-PVEH, surpassed expectations in terms of performance and durability. Tests and simulations demonstrated that even after enduring more than 100,000 bends, it maintained high performance levels. It successfully stored the generated electricity and efficiently powered LED lights. Moreover, the C-PVEH outperformed other KNN-based polymer composites by exhibiting higher energy output density.

The introduction of the C-PVEH marks a significant step forward in the development of self-powered IoT sensors, ultimately leading to more energy-efficient IoT devices. The possibilities of this breakthrough extend beyond societal benefits. The researchers are thrilled by the technological advancements achieved through the C-PVEH device, and they believe that its exceptional energy output density and resilience will guide future research into exploring the applications of composite materials in various fields.

The successful combination of piezoelectric composites with CFRP has opened up new avenues for energy harvesting and sensor technology. With this breakthrough, the research group envisions a future where sustainable energy sources power a wide range of IoT devices, contributing to a more efficient and interconnected world.

Source: Tohoku University

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