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POLITECNICO DI TORINO

Facolt`a di Ingegneria dellInformazione


Corso di Laurea in Ingegneria Elettronica

Tesi di Laurea

Electronic System of Energy


Harvesting for a new Piezoelectric
Composite

Relatori:
Prof. Matteo Cocuzza
Dott. Giancarlo Canavese
Candidato:
Amedeo Dadduzio

Ottobre 2014

Acknowledgments
Ringrazio Paolo Motto, Giancarlo Canavese e Valentina Cauda per avermi sapientemente guidato nella realizzazione di questo lavoro.
Grazie al dottorando Marco Morello, sempre disponibile e pronto a chiarimenti e
consigli.
Ringrazio ancora mamma, papa e mio fratello Marco. E tutti gli amici.

Table of contents
Acknowledgments

1 Introduction
1.1 Types of energy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
1.1.1 Photovoltaic Energy Harvesting . . .
1.1.2 Thermoelectric Energy Harvesting . .
1.1.3 Kinetic Energy Harvesting . . . . . .
1.2 Energy Requirements of Autonomous Devices
1.3 Typical System Architecture . . . . . . . . . .

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2 Kinetic Energy Harvesting


2.1 Introduction to Kinetic Energy Generators . . .
2.2 Kinetic Energy Harvesting Applications . . . .
2.2.1 Human Apllications . . . . . . . . . . .
2.2.2 Industrial Applications . . . . . . . . .
2.2.3 Transport Applications . . . . . . . . .
2.2.4 Structural Applications . . . . . . . . .
2.3 Trasduction Mechanism . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2.3.1 Electrostatic Trasduction . . . . . . . .
2.3.2 Electromagnetic Trasduction . . . . . .
2.3.3 Piezoelectric Trasduction . . . . . . . .
2.4 Principles of Kinetic Energy Harvesting . . . .
2.4.1 Trasfer Function . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2.4.2 Equivalent Circuit . . . . . . . . . . . .
2.4.3 Damping in Kinetic Energy Harvesters .
3 Piezoelectricity
3.1 Introduction . . . .
3.2 History . . . . . . .
3.3 How it Works? . . .
3.4 How are they made?

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3.5

3.6

Examples of Piezoelectric Materials . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


3.5.1 Crystals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3.5.2 Ceramics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3.5.3 Polymers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Introduction to Mathematical Model of Piezoelectric Materials .
3.6.1 Mathematical Model . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

4 Synthesis and Characterization of Zinc Oxide


Siloxane Composite Material
4.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
4.2 Introduction to Zinc Oxide . . . . . . . . . . .
4.2.1 Variation of ZnO Morphologies . . . . .
4.3 Experimental . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
4.3.1 ZnO microparticle synthesis . . . . . .
4.3.2 Material Characterization . . . . . . . .
4.3.3 Material: Results and Discussion . . . .
4.3.4 Composite Preparation . . . . . . . . .
4.3.5 Composite Characterization . . . . . . .
4.3.6 Composite: Results and Discussion . . .

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and Polydimethyl.
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5 Energy Harvesting Circuits


5.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
5.2 Devices based on AC-DC Rectification . . . . .
5.2.1 Circuit Analysis . . . . . . . . . . . . .
5.3 Two-Stage Energy Harvesting Circuit Approach
5.4 Design of the Energy Harveter Circuit . . . . .
5.4.1 Designed Circuit Analysis . . . . . . . .

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6 Circuit Design and Simulations


6.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . .
6.2 Design Specification . . . . . . . . .
6.3 Circuit Design . . . . . . . . . . . .
6.3.1 Piezoelectric Material Model
6.3.2 AC-DC Stage . . . . . . . . .
6.3.3 BOOST Regulator . . . . . .
6.3.4 LDO Regulator . . . . . . . .
6.4 Component List . . . . . . . . . . .
6.5 Simulations Results . . . . . . . . . .
6.6 Experimental Results . . . . . . . . .

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7 Conclusion

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72
III

Bibliography

73

IV

Chapter 1
Introduction
The concept of energy harvesting and its theory.
Energy harvesting theory relates to the process of using ambient energy, which is
converted, primarily (but not exclusively) into electrical energy in order to power
small and autonomous electronic devices. The expressions power harvesting or
energy scavenging are also used to describe the same process. The concept is
not new and has wider applications that are more common such as electrical and
thermal power generation for buildings by means of large scale solar panels and
wind turbines. Energy harvesting from ambient waste energy for the purpose of
running low-powered electronics has emerged during the last decade as an enabling
technology for digital and wireless applications. The task of this technology is to
provide remote sources of electric power and/or to recharge storage devices, such
as batteries and capacitors. The concept has ecological ramifications in reducing
the chemical waste produced by replacing batteries and potential monetary gains by
reducing maintenance costs. The potential for enabling wireless monitoring applications, such as structural health monitoring, also brings an element of increasing
public safety. With the previously mentioned potential as motivation, the area of energy harvesting has captivated both academics and industrialists. This has resulted
in an explosion of academic research and new products. The evolution of low-powerconsuming electronics and the need to provide wireless solutions to sensing problems
have led to an increase of research in energy harvesting.

1 Introduction

1.1

Types of energy

Figure 1.1.

Typical Data for Various Energy Harvesting Sources [1]

In the envirornment there is a various range of dierent energy domains, whether


internal or external. Three examples of possible sources for harvesting electrical
energy from a common outdoor environment are investigated in this work: solar
energy (light), thermal energy (heat) and kinetic energy (motion). It is quite dicult
to generalize regarding the typical power levels that are available from these three
types of energy sources, or which source is most suitable because many subjects
are involved in this study. Neverthless, figure1.1[1] provides a general indication of
typical power levels. It is clear that in terms of power density solar power in outdoor
conditions is hard to beat. However, it becomes comparable with the other sources
if used indoors and is not suitable for embedded applications or dirty environments
where the cells can become obscured. In any case the choice of energy source and
method of implementation is largely governed by the application. There can be a
fundamental link between the energy source and the design of the harvester. In
the case of kinetic energy harvesting exploiting vibrations, the source vibration
spectra will vary enormously for dierent applications. For example, generating
power from human movement requires a totally dierent solution to the design of
a generator for harvesting machinery vibrations. In every case, clear and precise
data of the energy source is required at the outset. Wireless sensors could be a good
example of application field. They oer many obvious advantages such as ease of
installation, flexibility, suitability for retrofitting and avoidance of the added cost,
weight, and unreliability of wired connections. In some scenarios it might not even
be possible to get access to mains electricity supply. If a sensor node was to be
used for monitoring the environment on a glacier or in the desert, the nearest power
socket could be tens of miles away. Batteries would seem to be an obvious source
2

1 Introduction

of electrical power, but they have a limited lifetime. For applications requiring
several hundreds (or even thousands) of sensor nodes scattered over a wide area, it
might not be realistic to expect the batteries to be changed as soon as the source
is depleted. Furthermore, some applications require the electronics to be embedded
where access to replace batteries is inconvenient e.g. implanted medical devices.
A solution for powering these applications that exploits the availability of ambient
energy therefore has clear benefits taking in account that energy harvesting devices
should naturally be designed to operate for the lifetime of the system. It follows a
brief review of the main possible sources mentioned before for harvesting electrical
energy.

1.1.1

Photovoltaic Energy Harvesting

Photovoltaic (PV) technologies is the primary power source for any stand-alone
electronic systems positioned outdoors or in rooms with windows, that uses light
sources. The Sun in outdoor conditions can provide around 100 mW/cm2 of optical
power, a cloudy day will provide around 10 mW/cm2 , and around 0.5 mW/cm2
will be incident on most surfaces within a room. The ecency of typical solar
cells is in the range of 5 to 20 under standard conditions; they will often be much
less ecient under low illumination levels. The very best devices, typically very
expensive concentrator cells, are designed to operate under the power of many suns
and are up to 40 ecient. The power density available from solar cells operating
outdoors can exceed that available with other energy harvesting technologies by
several orders of magnitude (see Figure1.2). The value is much less for indoor
operation; nevertheless, even indoor light energy harvesting can provide sucient
power densities for low power technologies such as wireless sensor nodes[2, 3, 4].
The abundance of optical power that is available for many applications that require
modest levels of energy assures photovoltaic energy harvesting as a good solution.
However, very careful considerations of the nature and frequency of illumination
conditions and the total power usage of the device are required, and the area of
the solar cell used must be chosen accordingly. Furthermore, devices must have
energy management and storage systems that ensure that essential features (such
as time keeping or critical monitoring) can be maintained throughout the longest
likely periods of darkness. Solar energy is commonly used within commercial devices,
particularly low-power consumable electronics such as calculators. Solar energy is
also often employed for isolated noncritical outdoor systems such as parking meters,
weather stations, telephone boxes, and trac information systems. It is not used
for alarm systems or any portable high-power systems such as mobile phones or
laptop computers and even less to power electric vehicles. Systems based on solar
energy will nearly always require the end user of the equipment, be it stationary
or portable, to diligently place the device in an appropriate location, and this is
3

1 Introduction

often a limiting constraint. The surface area of a photovoltaic module required for a
desired power is perhaps the most limiting constraint. The size of an array required
to power a house would ideally be no more than the area of one side of a roof; the
size required for a laptop should be that of an A4 sheet of paper. Ideally, a singlechip sensing/transceiver system would require a solar cell no greater than its own
area and ideally we would use the same piece of silicon to provide the base material
for the solar cell. In many cases applications require device eciencies higher than
those currently available at a reasonable cost.

Figure 1.2.

1.1.2

Power Densities of Various Energy Harvesting Technologies [1]

Thermoelectric Energy Harvesting

Thermal energy harvesting is related to thermoelectric devices, which are capable


of converting heat into electricity. Thermal energy can be found in almost any
environment and a vast amount is unused. Typical examples include waste heat from
vehicle exhausts and radiators, geothermal from undergrounds, cooling water of steel
plants and other industrial processes, and temperature dierence between the surface
and the bottom of oceans. Success in this endeavor will have a wide implication in
both energy supply and environment. Thermoelectric devices can help to improve
energy eciency and reduce CO2 emissions of fossil fuel systems through waste
heat recovery. They can also be integrated into autonomous systems to enhance
the capability and lifetime of self-power by harvesting thermal energy from their
environment, or even charging wireless sensors and mobile devices from human body
heat. Thermoelectric theory describe the interaction and conversion between heat
and electricity in solids, which can be summarized by three thermoelectric eects:
the Seebeck eect, the Peltier eect, and the Thomson eect. These three eects
4

1 Introduction

are related by the Kelvin relationships. They are the foundation for thermoelectrics
and are described in the following sections.[5, 6, 7, 8, 9].
The Seebeck Eect
The Seebeck eect describes a phenomenon that produces a voltage by a temperature gradient. Figure 1.3 shows a circuit that consists of two dissimilar metals or
semiconductors joining together. By applying a temperature dierence across two
junctions, a voltage V will be generated in the circuit
V = ab T

(1.1)

where T = (TH -TC ) is the temperature dierence across the two junctions and
V
is referred to as the Seebeck coecient. The unit for alpha is K
and its value can
be positive or negative depending on the type of conducting charges.

Figure 1.3.

The seebeck eect: a voltage generated by the temperature dierence


across the junctions [1]

The Peltier Eect


If we apply a voltage to the circuit as shown in Figure1.3 instead of applying a
temperature dierence across the junctions in Figure1.4, an electric current that
flows around the circuit will result in heat absorption at one junction and heat
dissipation at another due to thermal transport by moving electrons. Consequently,
one junction will become cold and the other junction will become hot. Furthermore,
if the electric current changes the direction, the heat absorption and dissipation at
the two junctions will be reversed. The amount of heat removed per unit time from
one junction to another junction is given by
5

1 Introduction

Q = ab I

(1.2)

where I is the electric current in the circuit and ab is referred to as the Peltier
coecient,
ab =

Figure 1.4.

Q
I

(atT = 0)

(1.3)

The peltier eect: heat absorption (or dissipation) at junctions due


to electrical current [1]

The Thomson Eect


Both the Seebeck and Peltier eects can only be observed in a system that consists
of at least two dierent materials. However, the absorption (or dissipation) of heat
along a single material can occur when the material is subjected to a temperature
dierence and electric current simultaneously as shown in Figure 1.5. The total heat
absorption (or dissipation) is given by:
QT = IT

(1.4)

where is referred to as the Thomson coecient. The unit for the Thomson
1
V
eect is W
, which is equivalent to K
.
A K

1 Introduction

Figure 1.5. The Thomson Eect: heat absorption (or dissipation) by a material
when subjected to temperature dierence and electrical current

1.1.3

Kinetic Energy Harvesting

The adjective kinetic has its roots in the Greek word kinesis meaning motion. Mechanical energy can be found almost anywhere so converting mechanical energy
from ambient vibration into electrical energy is an attractive approach. The source
of mechanical energy can be a moving human body such as walking, writing with a
pencil, taking a book o a shelf, or opening a door or a vibrating structure. The production of electrical power from kinetic energy sources requires a physical structure
to capture the energy and an electrostatic, piezoelectric or electromagnetic mechanism to convert it to electricity. Large-scale applications, such as those based on
the energy of ocean waves, require low-cost and ecient energy converting devices.
Smaller-scale applications, for example, using human activity to power portable devices, need to be lightweight and to easily and comfortably integrate with clothing
or personal accessories. The answer to improved kinetic energy conversion lies in
new materials. A better description of kinetic energy harvesting is given in the next
chapter.

1.2

Energy Requirements of Autonomous Devices

Continuous advance in low-power electronics are making the powering digital devices
from ambient energy a distinct and real proposition. The power consumption of
various computing platforms is shown in Figure1.6. Aside from systems such as
Wireless Sensor Networks and Radio Frequency Identification, the multibillion dollar
portable electronics market from mobile phones to MP3 players to digital cameras
will be an attractive application for micro and macro-scale energy harvesting when
the power requirements can be met.
7

1 Introduction

Figure 1.6.

Hierarchy of computing based on power consumption [1]

The average power consumption of mobile phone is in the order of 1W during


a call and 10mW in standby. Clearly, where energy harvesting is incapable of
delivering watts of power, it may permit a near indefinite standby lifetime or even
recharge the phone between calls. Advances in low-power electronics are reducing
the energy requirements of other mobile consumer devices including M P 3 players
(as shown in Figure1.7) that currently consume less than 50mW during playback.
There is a clear possibility for energy harvesting to be used to extend the battery
life of these devices significantly or even indefinitely. The possibility of using energy
harvesting to recharge the battery in a mobile phone, M P 3 player, digital camera,
or other mobile device is certainly.

Figure 1.7.

1.3

The decresing trend of power consumption for the Apple iPod(From:


www.ipodbatteryfaq.com)

Typical System Architecture

An example of simple block diagram for an energy harvesting system is presented in


Figure1.8. This serves to illustrate some of the important design considerations that
8

1 Introduction

Figure 1.8.

Generalized block diagram of an energy harvesting system

need to be addressed when one considers adopting an energy harvesting strategy


to solve a particular problem. The output of an energy harvester takes the form
of the electrical variables, voltage, and current. Depending upon the nature of the
harvester, the characteristics of these parameters can vary considerably; in particular
the phase, frequency, and amplitude of the AC waveforms and the magnitude of
the DC level. In order to power an electronic subsystem such as a sensor or a
microcontroller, it is a usual requirement to modify the output of the harvester in
order to supply the desired excitation for the subsystem. For example, a vibration
energy harvester might produce an AC voltage having a frequency of 50Hz and
magnitude of 1V and this would need to be converted to, say, a DC voltage of 3V to
power a microcontroller. It cannot always be assumed that the output power from
the energy harvester will be continuous. Take the case of a solar cell and consider
the variability of the incident sunlight that it is exposed to during a typical 24h
period. The intensity of the light will change in accordance with overhead cloud
cover and the position of the sun in the sky and, of course, at night there will be
no output from the harvester at all. In the case of vibration energy harvesting,
the power generated will depend upon the characteristics of the source vibrations
(such as amplitude and frequency). These source vibrations will often vary and the
resulting fluctuations in harvested power could be quite significant, especially in
the case of a tuned resonant generator. It is therefore often necessary to store the
energy on a temporary basis so that it can be delivered in a controlled manner to
the required electronic subsystem. The form of energy storage element might be a
supercapacitor or a rechargeable battery. Naturally there are some scenarios where
the energy supply is constant and there is no need to use a storage component.

Chapter 2
Kinetic Energy Harvesting
2.1

Introduction to Kinetic Energy Generators

Kinetic energy generators have the task of convert kinetic energy derived from ambient into electrical energy. This type of energy is typically present within the
environment as vibrations, random displacements, or forces and can be converted
into electrical energy using electromagnetic, piezoelectric, or electrostatic mechanisms. Goods vibration levels are to be found in numerous applications including
common household goods (refrigerators, washing machines, and microwave ovens),
industrial plant equipment, moving structures such as automobiles and airplanes,
and civil structures such as buildings and bridges [10]. Also human movements can
be investigated as possible source of kinetic energy. Human movement tends to be
characterized by low-frequency, high-amplitude displacements [11, 12]. The amount
of electrical energy that is attainable by these approaches is dependent upon the
quantity and form of kinetic energy available in the environment and also on the
eciency of both the generator and the power conversion electronics.

2.2

Kinetic Energy Harvesting Applications

Kinetic energy can be harvested from a various range of applications. In this study
are discussed human-, industrial-, transport-, and structural-based applications. So,
kinetic generators for various applications will often be very dierent. It is essential that generators are designed from the outset with a prior knowledge of the
application and the characteristics of the kinetic energy targeted.
10

2 Kinetic Energy Harvesting

2.2.1

Human Apllications

All human movments are characterized by large amplitude displacements at low


frequencies and by some degree of impact on the heel of the foot during walking.
These impacts send shock waves through the human body, but these are rapidly
absorbed by the joints. The average gait of a walking human of a weight of 68 kg
produces 67W of energy at the heel of the shoe [13]. A study carried out during a
European-funded research project, Vibration Energy Scavenging (VIBES), measured
the vibrations at various locations on the body while walking. The subject taken
in account was 1.7m tall, weighed 76kg, and was wearing standard running shoes;
measurements were taken at a walking speed of 5km/h from the ankle, wrist, chest,
upper arm, and head. The maximum accelerations were found at the ankle in
the direction of walking with a peak acceleration of over 100m/s2 and a frequency
of 1.2Hz. The acceleration in the vertical direction was 20m/s2 . At all other
locations on the body, the frequency remains constant, although the magnitude
of the accelerations in the vertical and walking axes was less than 7m/s2 . These
findings are similar to the results published by von Buren et al. [14]. The large
forces generated, for example, heel strikes while walking or during breathing, and
angular displacements at the joints also present possibilities for harvesting energy.

Figure 2.1.

2.2.2

Example of human application

Industrial Applications

Industrial equipment can be also used as source of energy harvesting. Tipically industrial equipment is powered by mains electricity, so it is common for the frequency
of the supply to be present in the vibration spectra of the machine. Figure2.2 shows
the frequency spectrum of the vibrations found on a U.K. mains-powered air compressor. The peak vibration at 50Hz is clearly visible. The level of vibration on
11

2 Kinetic Energy Harvesting

the plot is shown in units of g where 1g represents an acceleration of 9.81 m/s2 ; the
peak corresponds to 0.25 m/s2 . The amplitude of the corresponding displacements
of these vibrations is 2.5m, which is very low compared to those associated with
human applications.
For equipment not powered from the mains, the vibration frequency can vary, in
the range of 20200Hz with similar vibration amplitudes to those of mains-powered
equipment. These values can be acceptable for the design of a specific-application
energy harvesting system.

Figure 2.2.

2.2.3

Frequency spectrum of the vibrations found on a U.K. mains-powered


air compressor(VIBES project) [1]

Transport Applications

Transport applications are very dierent according to the type of vehicle taken in
account. There are many examples such as cars, trains, aircraft, and ships and the
vibrations present in each area can often be quite dierent. In the case of cars, the
vibration levels will vary depending upon the location of the generator on the vehicle
(i.e., on the wheel or on the chassis), the type of vehicle, the road conditions, and
the speed. Figure2.3 gives some typical data obtained during the VIBES project.
It can be seen that anything located away from the wheel or suspension elements
experiences relatively low levels of vibration at low frequencies. Acceleration levels
on the wheel, however, are much greater. In contrast to the results from a vehicle,
the frequency spectrum of the vibration measured on a PZL SW-4 helicopter are
12

2 Kinetic Energy Harvesting

Figure 2.3.

Example of vibration data from a range of vehicles(VIBES project)


[1]

shown in Figure2.4 [1]. Vibration frequencies on helicopters are governed by both


the rotor speed and number of blades and tend to be relatively consistent. In the
example shown, there is a characteristic frequency at 30Hz, where is present a peak
acceleration at 19 m/s2 in this specific location.

Figure 2.4.

Frequency spectrum of the vibration measured on a PZL SW-4 helicopter(VIBES project) [1]

13

2 Kinetic Energy Harvesting

2.2.4

Structural Applications

Kinetic energy can be available also in buildings and bridges and its quantity can be
variable for dierent scenarios. For example, vibrations in buildings can be caused
by a variety of eects such as seismic activity, subways, road and rail systems,
wind, heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC) equipment, elevator/conveyance
systems, and fluid pumping equipment. Hunaidi and Tremblay [15] showed that
vibration levels for these apllications are relatively small, in fact, in a range of
1012.5Hz they obtained a maximum accelertion of 0.1 m/s2 Bridges can exhibit
vibrations as a result of the trac flowing over them. The magnitude and frequency
will depend upon the nature of the structure and the speed, weight, and number of
vehicles traveling over it. Yang et al. [16] tried to measure this data on a bridge
and they found that a 25m long bridge with a single vehicle traveling over it at 20
m/s2 exhibits accelerations of 0.035 m/s2 at 2Hz. This can increase to 0.09 m/s2
for 5 vehicles. Williams et al. [17] also explored the feasibility of vibration energy
harvesting on bridges. They found the natural frequency for two dierent concrete
bridges to be 6Hz and 4.5Hz, with amplitudes of acceleration less than 0.09 m/s2
when an articulated lorry crossed one of the bridges.
These values are very low so an ecient energy harvesting circuit must be designed
having a prior knowledge of the whole system.

Figure 2.5.

Sketch of a building aected by seismic activity.

14

2 Kinetic Energy Harvesting

2.3

Trasduction Mechanism

Some form of transduction mechanism is obviously required to convert the kinetic


energy into electrical energy. The trasduction mechanisms are piezoelectric, electromagnetic and electrostatic. [18] These mechanisms have to be incorporated into
the mechanical system that has been designed to maximize the energy coupled
from the application environmental to the transducer. The transducer can generate
electricity from mechanical strain or the relative displacement present within the
system, depending upon the type of transducer. The use of active materials such as
piezoelectrics is an obvious example that enables the strain to be directly converted
into electrical energy. Electromagnetic and electrostatic transduction exploits the
relative velocity or displacement that occurs within a generator. Each transduction mechanism has dierent characteristics such as damping eects, ease of use,
scalability, and eectiveness. The suitability of each mechanism for any particular
application depends largely on the practical constraints applied. Assuming no size
constraints, electromagnetic harvesting will be the most ecient because the coil
can be large, with a high number of turns and low coil resistance (larger diameter
wire) providing very high potential coupling factors. The eciency of piezoelectric
generators is fundamentally limited by the piezoelectric properties of the material.
The eciency of electrostatic generators is reduced by technical challenges relating
to charging the electrodes, the separation distances, and the amplitudes of displacement.

2.3.1

Electrostatic Trasduction

The basis of electrostatic generator is the variable capacitor. The variable capacitance structure is driven by mechanical vibrations. The capacitance varies
between maximum and minimum values. If the charge on the capacitor is constrained, charge will move from the capacitor to a storage device or to the load as
the capacitance decreases. Thus, mechanical energy is converted to electrical energy. Electrostatic generators can be classified into three types, i.e. in-plane overlap
(Figure2.6) which varies the overlap area between electrode fingers, in-plane gap
closing (Figure2.6) which varies the gap between electrode fingers and out-of-plane
gap closing (Figure2.6) which varies the gap between two large electrode plates [19].
These three types can be operated either in charge-constrained or voltage-constrained
cycles. Generally, generators working in voltage-constrained cycles provide more
energy than generators in charge-constrained cycles. However, by incorporating
a capacitor in parallel with the energy harvesting capacitor, the energy from the
charge-constrained system can approach that of the voltage-constrained system as
the parallel capacitance approaches infinity. This parallel capacitor eectively constrains the voltage on the energy harvesting capacitor [20]. A simplified circuit for
15

2 Kinetic Energy Harvesting

Figure 2.6.

Electrostatic generators:(a)in-plane overlap;(b)in-plane gap closing;(c)out of plane gap closing [18]

an electrostatic generator using charge-constrained conversion is shown in Figure2.7.


Vin is a pre-charged reservoir, which could be a capacitor or a rechargeable battery.

Figure 2.7.

Circuit representation for an electrostatic generator [18]

Cv is a variable capacitor, which is one of the three types mentioned above. Cpar is
the parasitic capacitance associated with the variable capacitor structure and any
interconnections, which limits the maximum voltage. CL is the storage capacitor or
any kind of load.
Cmax + Cpar
Vmax =
Vin
(2.1)
Cmin + Cpar
16

2 Kinetic Energy Harvesting

An electrostatic generator can be easily realized in MEMS version. Since the


fabrication process of electrostatic generators is similar to that of VLSI, electrostatic generators can be assembled with VLSI without diculties. Unfortunately,
electrostatic generators require an initial polarizing voltage or charge. The output impedance of the devices is often very high, which makes them less suitable
as a power supply. However, they can be used to charge a battery, in which case,
electrostatic generators can use electrets to provide the initial charge.

2.3.2

Electromagnetic Trasduction

Electromagnetic induction was discovered by Michael Faraday in 1831. Faradays law


of electromagnetic induction states that an electrical current will be induced in any
closed circuit when the magnetic flux through a surface bounded by the conductor
changes. This applies whether the field itself changes in strength or the conductor
is moved through it. In an electromagnetic generator, permanent magnets are used
to produce strong magnetic field and a coil is used as the conductor. Either the
permanent magnet or the coil is fixed to the frame while the other is attached to
the inertial mass. The relative displacement caused by the vibration makes the
transduction mechanism work and generate electrical energy. The induced voltage,
also known as electromotive force (e.m.f), across the coil is proportional to the
strength of the magnetic field, the velocity of the relative motion and the number
of turns of the coil. An electromagnetic generator is characterized by high output
current level at the expense of low voltages. Figure2.8 [18] shows two commonly
seen examples of electromagnetic generators.

Figure 2.8.

Two examples of electromagnetic generators[18]

Electromagnetic generators perform better in macroscale than in microscale [21].


Particularly, generators integrated with MEMS with electroplated coils and magnets
may not be able to produce useful power levels due to poor electromagnetic coupling.
A simplified circuit for an electromagnetic generator is showed below[18].
17

2 Kinetic Energy Harvesting

Figure 2.9.

2.3.3

Circuit representation for an electromagnetic generator.[18]

Piezoelectric Trasduction

Piezoelectric materials have been used for many years to convert mechanical energy
into electrical energy. Piezoelectrics contain dipoles, which cause the material to
become electrically polarized when subjected to mechanical force. The degree of
polarization is proportional to the applied strain. Conversely, an applied electric
field causes the dipoles to rotate, which results in the material deforming. Piezoelectric materials are therefore used in a variety of commercial sensors and actuators
and are also a candidate for kinetic energy-harvesting applications. The piezoelectric eect is found in single crystal materials (e.g., quartz), ceramics (known as
piezo-ceramics) [e.g., lead zirconate titanate (PZT)], thin-film materials (e.g., sputtered zinc oxide), screen printable thick films based upon piezoceramic powders,
and polymer materials such as polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF). Such materials have
anisotropic piezoelectric behavior. This means that the properties of the material
dier depending upon the direction of the strain and the orientation of the polarization (and therefore the position of the electrodes). The piezoelectric properties
of a material are characterized by a series of constants shown in Figure2.10. These

Figure 2.10.

Piezoelectric Material Properties. [1]

are listed with their respective axis notations to fully describe the anisotropy. For
example, the 3 direction refers to piezoelectric materials that have been polarized
18

2 Kinetic Energy Harvesting

along their thickness (i.e., having electrodes on the top and bottom surfaces). If a
mechanical strain is applied in the same direction, the constants are denoted with
the subscript 33 (e.g., d33 ). If the strain is applied perpendicular to the direction
of polarization (e.g., the 1 direction), the constants are denoted with the subscript
31 (e.g., d31 ). These are illustrated in Figure2.11, but for a more complete description, refer to the IEEE standards [22]. In a majority of scenarios, piezoelectric

Figure 2.11.

Piezoelectric costants in typical energy-harvesting modes [1]

harvesters operate in the lateral 31 mode. This is because the piezoelectric element
is often bonded to the surface of a mechanical spring element that converts vertical
displacements into a lateral strain across the piezoelectric element. Some designs
can operate in the compressive 33 mode and these have the advantage of exploiting
the 33 constants, which are typically greater than the 31 equivalents. Compressive
strains, however, are typically much lower than the lateral strains occurring when
the piezoelectric is bonded onto a flexing structure. The piezoelectric constants for
quartz, soft and hard lead zirconate titanate piezoceramics (PZT-5H and PZT-5A,
respectively), barium titanate (BaTiO3), and polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) are
given in Figure2.12. These properties typically vary with age, stress, and temperature. The aging rate tends to be logarithmic with time and is dependent on the
formation/deposition method and material type. Stressing the material further increases the aging process. Soft piezoceramics (e.g., PZT-5H) are more susceptible to
stress-induced changes than the harder compositions such as PZT-5A. Temperature
is also a limiting factor with piezoceramics due to the eect of crystal structure
changes above the Curie point. Above this limit, the piezoelectric material will
lose it piezoelectric properties, eectively becoming depolarized. The application
of stress can also lower the Curie temperature and therefore the maximum practical operating temperature will typically be reduced. Over the last decade, several
articles have appeared on the use of these transduction mechanisms for low power
generation from ambient vibrations. Two of the review articles covering the experimental research on all transduction mechanisms are given by Beeby et al. [23]
19

2 Kinetic Energy Harvesting

Figure 2.12.

Coecients of Common Piezoelectric Materials. [1]

and Cook-Chennault et al. [24]. Comparing the number of publications that have
appeared using each of these three transduction alternatives, it can be seen that
piezoelectric transduction has received the greatest attention, especially in the last
ten years.

2.4

Principles of Kinetic Energy Harvesting

Inertial-based kinetic energy harvesters are modelled as second-order, spring-mass


systems. The generic model of kinetic energy harvesters was first developed by
Williams and Yates [25]. Figure2.13 shows a generic model of such a generator, which
consists of a seismic mass, m, and a spring with the spring constant of k. When
the generator vibrates, the mass moves out of phase with the generator housing.
There is a relative movement between the mass and the housing. This displacement
is sinusoidal in amplitude and can drive a suitable transducer to generate electrical
energy. b is the damping coecient that consists of mechanically induced damping
(parasitic damping) coecient bm and electrically induced damping coecient be ,
i.e. b = bm + be .y(t) is the displacement of the generator housing and z(t) is the
relative motion of the mass with respect to the housing. For a sinusoidal excitation,
y(t) can be written as y(t) = Y sint, where Y is the amplitude of vibration and is
the angular frequency of vibration. The transduction mechanism itself can generate
electricity by exploiting the mechanical strain or relative displacement occurring
within the system. The strain eect utilizes the deformation within the mechanical
system and typically employs active materials (e.g. piezoelectric). In the case of
relative displacement, either the velocity or position can be coupled to a transduction
mechanism. Velocity is typically associated with electromagnetic transduction while
20

2 Kinetic Energy Harvesting

Figure 2.13.

Generic Model of Kinetic Energy Harvester. [18]

relative position is associated with electrostatic transduction. Each transduction


mechanism exhibits dierent damping characteristics and this should be taken into
consideration while modelling the generators. Thermomechanical system can be
increased in complexity, for example, by including a hydraulic system to magnify
amplitudes or forces, or couple linear displacements into rotary generators.

2.4.1

Trasfer Function

For the analysis, it is assumed that the mass of the vibration source is much greater
than the mass of seismic mass in the generator and the vibration source is unaected
by the movement of the generator. Then the dierential equation of the movement
of the mass with respect to the generator housing from the dynamic forces on the
mass can be derived as follows:
m

d2 z(t)
dz(t)
d2 y(t)
+
b
=
m
dt2
dt
dt2

(2.2)

which can be written in the form after the Laplace transform as


ms2 z(s) + bsz(s) + ksz(s) = ma(s)

(2.3)

where a(s) is the Laplace expression of the acceleration of the vibration, a(t),
which is given by
a(t) =

d2 y(t)
dt2

21

(2.4)

2 Kinetic Energy Harvesting

Thus, the transfer function of a vibration-based micro-generator is


z(s)
1
= 2
b
a(s)
s + ms +

k
m

where Q = b is the quality factor and r =

2.4.2

1
s2

t
s
Q

+ r2

(2.5)

m is the resonant frequency.

Equivalent Circuit

An equivalent electrical circuit for a kinetic energy harvester can be found from Eq.
2.5, which, when rearranged, gives
!
"
k
ma(s) = sZ(s) ms + b +
(2.6)
s
Equation (2.6) can be rewritten as

1
1
I(s) = E(s) sC + +
R sL

"

(2.7)

where I(s) = ma(s), E(s) = sZ(s), C = m, R = 1b , L = k1 . Based on previous


equation an equivalent electrical circuit can be built as shown in Fig2.14.

Figure 2.14.

2.4.3

Equivalent Circuit of a Kinetic Energy Harvester. [18]

Damping in Kinetic Energy Harvesters

As mentioned above, damping in kinetic energy harvesters consists of mechanically


induced damping (parasitic damping) and electrically induced damping. The overall
damping factor of the system, T , is given by
T =

b
bm + be
=
= m + e
2mr
2mr
22

(2.8)

2 Kinetic Energy Harvesting


bm
be
where m = 2m
is the mechanically induced damping factor and e = 2m
is
r
r
the electrically induced damping factor. Total quality factor (Q-factor) is a function
of damping factor. The total Q-factor is given by

QT =

1
2T

(2.9)

This is the Q-factor when the generator is connected to the optimum load. The
relation between total quality factor and the electrical and mechanical damping is
given by
1
1
1
=
+
QT
QOC Qe

(2.10)

where QOC = 21m is the open circuit Q-factor which reflects the mechanical
damping. Qe , which equals 21e , reflects performance of the transduction mechanism.
It cannot be measured directly, but can be calculated using above equation once QT
and QOC are measured.

23

Chapter 3
Piezoelectricity
3.1

Introduction

Nowadays, most of the research in the energy field is to develop sources of energy
for future. With oil resources being over tapped and eventually bound to end, it is
time to find renewable sources of energy for the future. Piezoelectric materials are
being more and more studied as they turn out to be very unusual materials with
very specific and interesting properties. In fact, these materials have the ability
to produce electrical energy from mechanical energy, for example they can convert
mechanical behavior like vibrations into electricity. Such devices are commonly
referred to as energy harvesters and can be used in applications where outside power
is unavailable and batteries are not a feasible option. While recent experiments have
shown that these materials could be used as power generators, the amount of energy
produced is still very low, hence to optimize them.

3.2

History

The piezoelectric eect was discovered in 1880 by the bothers Pierre and Jacques
Curie. They combined what they knew about pyroelectricity and about structures
of crystals to demonstrate the eect with tourmaline, quartz, topaz, cane sugar
and Rochelle salt. They found out that when a mechanical stress was applied on
these crystals, electricity was produced and the voltage of these electrical charges
was proportional to the stress. The converse eect however was discovered later by
Gabriel Lippmann in 1881 through the mathematical aspect of the theory. These
behaviors were labeled the piezoelectric eect and the inverse piezoelectric eect,
respectively, from the Greek word piezein, meaning to press or squeeze. The first
applications were made during World War I with piezoelectric ultrasonic transducers. Nowadays, piezoelectricity is used in everyday life. For example, in the cars
24

3 Piezoelectricity

airbag sensor where the material detects the change in acceleration of the car by
sending an electrical signal which triggers the airbag.

3.3

How it Works?

The nature of piezoelectric materials is closely linked to the significant quantity


of electric dipoles within these materials. These dipoles can either be induced by
ions on crystal lattice sites with asymmetric charge surroundings (as in BaT iO3
and P ZT s) or by certain molecular groups with electrical properties. A dipole is
a vector, often named P , so it has a direction and a value in accordance with the
electrical charges around. These dipoles tend to have the same direction when next
to each other, and they altogether form regions called Weiss domains. The domains
are generally randomly oriented but they can be aligned using the process of poling,
which is a process by which a strong electric field is applied across the material.
However not every piezoelectric materials can be poled. The reason why piezoelectric material creates a voltage is because when a mechanical stress is applied, the
crystalline structure is disturbed and it changes the direction of the polarization P
of the electric dipoles. Depending on the nature of the dipole (if it is induced by
ion or molecular groups), this change in the polarization might either be caused by
a reconfiguration of the ions within the crystalline structure or by a reorientation
of molecular groups [27]. As a consequence, the bigger the mechanical stress, the
bigger the change in polarization and the electricity produced. A traditional piezoelectric ceramic is a mass of perovskite ceramic crystals, each consisting of a small,
tetravalent metal ion, usually titanium or zirconium (see figure 3.1), in a lattice
of larger, divalent metal ions, usually lead or barium, and ions. Under conditions
that confer tetragonal or rhombohedral symmetry the crystals, each has a dipole
moment. The change in P appears as a variation of surface charge density upon the
crystal faces, i.e. as a variation of the electrical field extending between the faces.
For example, a 1cm3 cube of quartz with 2kN of correctly applied force can produce
a voltage of 12500V [28, 29].

3.4

How are they made?

Piezoelectric materials can be natural or manmade. The most common natural


piezoelectric material is quartz, but man-made piezoelectric materials are more efficient and mostly ceramics. Due to their complex crystalline structure, the process
with which they are made is very precise and has to follow very specific steps. As explained in Electroceramics:Materials,Properties and Applications [30], to prepare
a piezoelectric ceramic, fine PZT powders of the component metal oxides are mixed
25

3 Piezoelectricity

Figure 3.1. Cristalline structure of a ceramic piezoelectric material: the 1st sketch
without a dipole P (t > TC );the 2nd sketch with a dipole P (t < TC ) [26]

in specific proportions, then heated to form a uniform powder. The piezo powder is
mixed with an organic binder and is formed into structural elements having the desired shape (discs, rods, plates, etc.). The elements are fired according to a specific
time and temperature program, during which the piezo powder particles sinter and
the material attains a dense crystalline structure. The elements are cooled, then
shaped or trimmed to specifications, and electrodes are applied to the appropriate
surfaces. However, piezoelectric material exhibits an electric behavior and acts as a
dipole only below a certain temperature called Curie temperature. Above the Curie
point, the crystalline structure will have a simple cubic symmetry so no dipole moment (see first sketch of Figure3.1). On the contrary, below the Curie point, the
crystal will have a tetragonal or rhombihedral symmetry hence a dipole moment
(see second sketch of Figure3.1). As explained earlier, adjoining dipoles form regions called Weiss domains and exhibit a larger dipole moment as every dipole in
the domain has roughly the same direction, thus a net polarization. The change of
direction of polarization between two neighboring domains is random, making the
whole material neutral with no overall polarization (see first sketch of Figure3.2).
In order to be polarized, is exposed to a strong and direct current electric field
whose goal is to align all dipoles in the material. Of course this transformation
has to be made below the Curie point so that dipoles are present. Thanks to this
polarization, the material gets its dipoles almost aligned with the electric field and
now has a permanent polarization. This permanent polarization is the remanent polarization after the electric field is removed, due to a hysteretic behavior (Figure3.3)
and it also gets lengthen in the direction of the field (see second sketch of Figure3.1),
for the same hysteretic reason. [31]
26

3 Piezoelectricity

Figure 3.2.

Method to pole a piezoelectric material [26]

Figure 3.3.

3.5

Histeric curve of polarization [26]

Examples of Piezoelectric Materials

The piezoelectric eect occurs only in non conductive materials. Piezoelectric materials can be divided in 3 main groups: crystals, ceramics and polymers. The most
well-known piezoelectric material is quartz (SiO2 ).

3.5.1

Crystals

-Quartz (SiO2 ) : Quartz shows a strong piezoelectricity due to its crystalline structure, wich is meaning that when a pressure is applied on a quartz crystal an electrical
polarization can be observed along the pressure direction.
-Berlinite (AlP O4 )
-Gallium orthophosphate (GaP O4 ) : Gallium orthophosphate has almost the same
crystalline structure as quartz, that is why it has the same characteristics. However
its piezoelectric eect is almost twice as important as the one for the quartz, making
27

3 Piezoelectricity

it a valuable asset for mechanical application. It is not a natural element, it has to


be synthesised.
-Tourmaline : crystal commonly black but can range from violet to green and pink.

Figure 3.4.

3.5.2

Example of Piezoelectric Crystal

Ceramics

-Barium Titanate (BaT iO3 ) : This element is an electrical ceramics, it is usually


replaced by lead zirconate titanate (PZT) for piezoelectricity. It is used for microphones and transducers
-Lead Zirconate Titanate (PZT) : It is considered today one of the most economical
piezoelectric element, hence it is used in a lot of applications.
-Zinc oxide (ZnO): Zinc oxide has a cubic chemical structure and its crystalline
structure shows piezoelectric properties.
-Aluminum Nitride (AiN ): Aluminum nitride, crystallizes in an hexagonal space
group P 63mc. AlN is piezoelectric but not much. Molar mass 40.988g/mol Current research focuses on developing light-emitting diodes.

3.5.3

Polymers

There are dierent polymer categories that can be considered piezoelectric. Figure3.5
shows a graphical representation of the dierent types. The first category of piezoelectric polymers is the bulk polymer. These are solid polymer films that have the
piezoelectric mechanism through their molecular structure and its arrangement. The
second category is the piezoelectric composite polymer. These are polymer structures with integrated piezoelectric ceramics from which the piezoelectric eect is
28

3 Piezoelectricity

generated. These composites make use of the mechanical flexibility of polymers and
the high electromechanical coupling of the piezoelectric ceramics. The third type is
the voided charged polymer, a radically dierent type of piezoelectric polymer than
the first two categories. This is a polymer film in which gas voids are introduced
and surfaces are charged in a way to form internal dipoles. The polarization of these
dipoles changes with the applied stress on the polymer film (i.e. has a piezoelectric
response).

Figure 3.5.

Schematic diagram of piezoelectric polymer types:bulkpiezopolymers,


piezocomposites, voided charged polymers [32]

Bulk piezoelectric polymers


Bulk piezoelectric polymers have a piezoelectric eect due to the molecular structure
of the polymer and its orientation. There are two types of bulk polymers that have
dierent operating principles: the semicrystalline polymers and amorphous polymers. A detailed review of both types and their theory and piezoelectric properties
is presented by Harrison in [33]. In these two types, there are structural requirements
that should exist for a bulk polymer material to be piezoelectric. First, the molecular structure of the polymer should inherently contain molecular dipoles. Second,
these dipoles can be reoriented within the bulk material and kept in their preferred
orientation state. This reorientation is done through a process called poling (see
Figure 3.3).
29

3 Piezoelectricity

Figure 3.6.

Example of Polymer Film[32]

Voided Charged polymers


In simple terms, voided charged polymers (sometimes called cellular polymers) are
polymer materials that contain internal gas voids. When the polymer surfaces surrounding the voids are charged, the voided charged polymer behaves like a piezoelectric material, coupling electrical and mechanical energy. Such structures can
have a high piezoelectric coecient d33 comparably with the ones of piezoceramics.
This structure was first invented by Gerhard Sessler in the early 1960s [35] when he
developed a charged polymer device to be used as a microphone. It was only viewed
and named as space charged electrets. It was not until the late 1980s that researchers
accepted the concept of treating the space charged electrets as a black box and investigated the piezo and pyroelectricity of such films [36]. Starting with a polymer film
with embedded air voids, internal charging of voids can be done through electrical
poling. When a large electric field is applied across the film, gas molecules in the
voids get ionized and opposite charges are accelerated and implanted on each side
of the voids, depending on the applied electric field direction [36]. Such artificially
embedded dipoles respond externally to an applied electrical field or mechanical
force similar to piezoelectric material. Instead of ion displacement in a crystalline
structure of a regular piezoelectric material, deformation of the charged voids is the
cause of the piezoelectric eect.
Piezocomposites
A piezoelectric polymer composite (or a piezocomposite) is a polymer material with
embedded inorganic piezoelectric material. The advantage of mixing piezoelectric
30

3 Piezoelectricity

ceramics with polymers is to combine the advantages of both materials, which include the higher coupling factor and dielectric constant of ceramics and the mechanical flexibility of polymers. Piezocomposites are also the material of choice for
acoustic devices because of the polymers low acoustic impedance and fewer spurious
modes [34]. Arrangement of ceramic/polymer composites can have many dierent
combinations [34]. Arranged or randomly scattered rods in polymer bulk films are
commercially available from companies like Smart Material, which are classified as
composites. Another approach is to impinge microscale or nanoscale particles inside
a polymer matrix. Dierent analytical and numerical models have been developed
to estimate the material properties of such composites. These models are useful
in designing and predicting the dierent electrical, mechanical and electromechanical properties of piezocomposites but are dicult to estimate. That is why it is
rare to find a developed composite material with measured values of dielectric constant, Youngs modulus and piezoelectric coecients all reported. This introduces
diculties in comparing such properties of the dierent materials.

Figure 3.7.

3.6

Example of Piezocomposite

Introduction to Mathematical Model of Piezoelectric Materials

Several review articles have appeared in four years (20042008) with an emphasis on
piezoelectric transduction to generate electricity from vibrations. The main advantages of piezoelectric materials in energy harvesting (compared to using the other
two basic transduction mechanisms) are their large power densities and ease of application. The power density versus voltage comparison given in Figure3.8 (due to
Cook-Chennault et al. [24]) shows that piezoelectric energy harvesting covers the
largest area in the graph with power density values comparable to those of thin-film
and thick-film lithium-ion batteries and thermoelectric generators. As can be seen
in Figure 3.8, voltage outputs in electromagnetic energy harvesting are typically
31

3 Piezoelectricity

Figure 3.8.

Power density versus voltage comparison of trasduction mechanisms


[40]

very low and often multistage post-processing is required in order to reach a voltage
level that can charge a storage component. In piezoelectric energy harvesting, however, usable voltage outputs can be obtained directly from the piezoelectric material
itself. Futhermore, the voltage output in piezoelectric energy harvesting emerges
from the constitutive behavior of the material, which eliminates the requirement of
an external voltage input. As another advantage, unlike electromagnetic devices,
piezoelectric devices can be fabricated both in macro-scale and micro-scale due to
the well-established thick-film and thin-film fabrication techniques . Poor properties
of planar magnets and the limited number of turns that can be achieved using planar
coils are some of the main practical limitations in enabling micro-scale electromagnetic energy harvesters. Research in the area of piezoelectric energy harvesting is
strongly connected to various disciplines of engineering. Consequently, the promising way of powering small electronic components and remote sensors has attracted
researchers from dierent disciplines of engineering, including mechanical, aerospace,
electrical, and civil, as well as researchers from the field of materials science, and
various modeling approaches have appeared. A comprehensive mathematical model
32

3 Piezoelectricity

should be as simple as possible yet sophisticated enough to capture the important


phenomena needed to represent and predict the dynamics of the physical system
as required by the application of interest. Many models are proposed in literature
and the most complete that represent all the physycal system is described in the
following section.

3.6.1

Mathematical Model

The aim of the theory is to describe mathematically the material behavior. However,
the equations governing piezoelectricity involve entities that cannot be measured experimentally, thus they need to be converted so that they make sense for experiments
and common use. A piezoelectric material develops an internal electric field when
strained. On the contrary, a piezoelectric material experiences strain when an electrical field is applied to it. These reactions, electrical field and mechanical behavior,
can be in either directions. Meaning that depending on the material, an electrical
field in one direction can lead to a mechanical reaction in any direction. Piezoelectric
generators typically work in 33 mode: a force is applied in the same direction as the
poling direction, such as the compression of a piezoelectric block that has electrodes
on its top and bottom surfaces.

Figure 3.9.

33 mode.[18]

The constitutive equations for a piezoelectric material are given by

+ dE
Y

(3.1)

D = E + d

(3.2)

where is the mechanical strain, is mechanical stress, Y is Youngs modulus


of the material, d is the piezoelectric strain coecient, E is the electric field, D
is the electrical displacement (charge density) and is the dielectric constant of
33

3 Piezoelectricity

the piezo- electric material. These expressions shows the relationship between the
mechanical and the electrical behaviors of those materials. The first equation shows
that part of an electrical field applied to the material is converted into mechanical
stress. Likewise, the second equation shows that part of a mechanical strain applied
to the material is converted into electrical field. One can note that in the absence
of electric field E, the second equation is Hookes Law. Likewise, in the absence of
mechanical stress in the first equation, it describes only the electrical behavior of
the material. Figure3.10 shows a circuit representation of a piezoelectric generator
with a resistive load, RL . C is the capacitance between two electrodes and Rs is the
resistance of the piezoelectric material.

Figure 3.10.

Circuit representation of a piezoelectric generator.[18]

The voltage source, VOC , is the open circuit voltage resulting from the second
equation when the electrical displacement is zero. It is given by
dt

(3.3)

where t is the thickness of the piezoelectric material. An expression for the piezoelectric damping coecient is
VOC =

2mr2 k 2
be = #
2 r2 + RL1CL

(3.4)

where k is the piezoelectric material electromechanical coupling factor and CL


is the load capacitance. Again RL can be used to optimize and the optimum value
can be found from next equation and as stated previously, maximum power occurs
when e equals m :
1
2
$ m
Ropt =
(3.5)
2 + k4
r C 4m
34

3 Piezoelectricity

The maximum power is


Pmax

%
&2
RL C 2 2Y dtb
1

= 2
a2
2 + k 4 )2 + 4 k 2 (R C ) + 2 2
r (4m
m
L
r
m

(3.6)

where b is a constant related to dimensions of the piezoelectric generator and a


is the vibration acceleration.

35

Chapter 4
Synthesis and Characterization of
Zinc Oxide and
Polydimethyl-Siloxane Composite
Material
4.1

Introduction

In this chapter are illustrated the main steps for the production of the composite
Zinc Oxide and Polydimethyl-Siloxane. The use of polymers for vibrational energy
harvesting is advantageous since polymers are ductile, resilient to shock deformable
and lightweight while zinc oxide (ZnO) nanowires, showed piezoelectric and semiconducting properties. These particular properties have the potential of harvesting
energy from the environment for self-powered nanotechnology.
ZnO has three key advantages. First, it exhibits both semiconducting and piezoelectric (PZ) properties that can form the basis for electromechanically coupled sensors
and transducers. Second, ZnO is relatively biosafe and biocompatible and it can
be used for biomedical applications with little toxicity. Finally, ZnO exhibits the
most diverse and abundant configurations of nanostructures known so far, such as
nanowires NWs, nanobelts (NBs), nanosprings , nanorings , nanobows , and nanohelices. On the other hand Polydimethyl-siloxane (PDMS) was used as a polymeric
matrix because of its advantages in terms of flexibility, low cost, chemical stability
and transparency obtaining the composite Zinc Oxide and Polydimethyl-Siloxane
ZnO + P DM S.
36

4 Synthesis and Characterization of Zinc Oxide and Polydimethyl-Siloxane Composite Material

4.2

Introduction to Zinc Oxide

Zinc oxide is an inorganic compound with the formula ZnO. ZnO is a white powder
that is insoluble in water, and it is widely used as an additive in numerous materials
and products including rubbers, plastics, ceramics, glass, cement, lubricants, paints,
adhesives, sealants, pigments, foods (source of Zn nutrient), batteries, ferrites, fire
retardants, and first-aid tapes. It occurs naturally as the mineral zincite, but most
zinc oxide is produced synthetically. In materials science, ZnO is a wide-bandgap
semiconductor of the II V I semiconductor group (since oxygen was classed as an
element of V IA group, the 6th main group, now referred to as 16th) of the periodic table and zinc, a transition metal, as a member of the IIB (2nd B, now 12th,
group). The native doping of the semiconductor (due to oxygen vacancies or zinc interstitials) is n-type. This semiconductor has several favorable properties, including
good transparency, high electron mobility, wide bandgap, strong room-temperature
luminescence, semiconducting and piezo-electric (PZ) properties, which expedites
its potential wide applications in biosensors, ultraviolet nanolasers, photodetectors,
solar cells, gas sensors,surface acoustic wave devices, ceramics, and nanogenerators.

Figure 4.1.

4.2.1

ZnO white powder.

Variation of ZnO Morphologies

In recent years, ZnO nanostructures have been paid considerable attention due
to their rich morphologies, and piezoelectric properties. Among this research, the
37

4 Synthesis and Characterization of Zinc Oxide and Polydimethyl-Siloxane Composite Material

control over size and morphology of nanometer and micrometer ZnO semiconductors represents a great challenge to design novel functional devices [37]. This is
because optical and electronic properties of ZnO semiconductors, which finally determine practical applications, can be modulated by varying their size and morphology. For this reason, the preparation of ZnO with dierent morphologies, including
nano-belts, nanorods, firecracker-shaped, nanowires, nanobridges, nanonails, and
nanowhiskers, is investigated in this thesis (Figure 4.2).

Figure 4.2.

High-magnification SEM images of dierent flower-like morphologies


ZnO [37]

The synthesis of ZnO is related to many academic subjects, such as physics,


chemistry, and materials chemistry etc. On the basis of conventional preparation
methods, many methods have been developed, mainly involving hydrolysis in polyol
media, chemical precipitation, microwave heating, templating, thermal oxidation
processes and hydrothermal syntheses. Among these methods, the hydrothermal
technique has been widely utilized to synthesize inorganic nanomaterials at temperatures generally below 220 C. The hydrothermal process has several advantages over
other growth processes, such as the use of simple equipment, catalyst-free growth,
low cost, large surface area, environmentally benign and less hazardous. However,
various organic additives, such as template or surfactant, are commonly involved
during hydrothermal process. Therefore, self-assembly of nanoparticles into the
38

4 Synthesis and Characterization of Zinc Oxide and Polydimethyl-Siloxane Composite Material

three-dimension structured morphologies and hierarchical architectures in the absence of any surfactants, template supports and structure-directing reagents still remains a tremendous challenge. Recently, flower-like ZnO nanostructures have been
successfully synthesized by various methods. However, in these methods, surfactant
or organic solvents were used, which are harmful to health and the environment.
On the other hand, Li and Wang have fabricated ZnO hierarchical microstructures with uniform flower-like morphology on a large scale through a template and
surfactant-free low-temperature (80 C) aqueous solution route[38]. They observed
that changing the proportion of the reagents, flower-like ZnO microstructures were
synthesized and in particular the results indicated that rod-like ZnO would be transformed into flower-like ZnO microstructures with decreasing the concentration of
sodium hydroxide. Futhermore, they observed that the amounts and diameters of
the petals of flower-like ZnO changed with increasing reaction time. P. Chen et al
[39] conducted ZnO multipods (MPs) synthesis through the direct reaction of the
aqueous solutions of zinc salts and potassium hydroxide KOH.

4.3
4.3.1

Experimental
ZnO microparticle synthesis

In this section will be discussed the main steps followed for the preparation of
ZnO micro-particles. Starting from the previous discussion on the varation of morphology, the synthesis of ZnO microparticles was carried out under conventional
hydrothermal tecnique, combining zinc nitrate hexahydrate (ZnN O3 6H2 O, 0.5M ,
Sigma) with dierent molar amount of potassium hydroxide (KOH, Merck). In
this way, dierent ZnO morphologies were obtained by varying the KOH : ZnN O3
molar ratio from 2 to 8, and 12 (see Figure 4.3 for the obtained morphologies with
respect to the molar ratio). In details, 7.4g of ZnN O3 6H2 O and the corresponding
amount of KOH were dissolved separately in 50mL bidistilled water each (from
Direct-Q System, Millipore). The zinc nitrate solution was then dropwise added to
the KOH solution under vigorous stirring, thus the total volume was 100mL. The
obtained gels were transferred in closed Teflon bottles at 70 C for 4h. At the end
of this time, ZnO microparticles having dierent shapes were separated from the
solution by filtration, washed repetitively with deionized water until the pH was
neutralized, and dried in air at 60 C overnight.
39

4 Synthesis and Characterization of Zinc Oxide and Polydimethyl-Siloxane Composite Material

Figure 4.3.

4.3.2

Powder form, prior to in corporation in the PDMS matrix

Material Characterization

After the synthesis of ZnO in powder forms, they were characterized and in particular: X-ray diraction (XRD) analysis was performed on the dierent ZnO particles
sythetized.
The morphologies of all the ZnO particles and the prepared ZnO-P DM S composites were observed by a Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscope (FESEM,
Dual Beam Auriga from Carl Zeiss, operating at 5keV ).
Nitrogen sorption isotherms, measured at 77K on a Quadrasorb instrument (Quantachrome), were used to calculate the Brunauer-Emmett-Teller (BET) specific surface area, using a multipoint method within the relative pressure range of 0.10.3 p/p0 .

4.3.3

Material: Results and Discussion

To obtain dierent morphologies, during the hydrothermal synthesis at mild temperature (70 C) it was applied a KOH : ZnN O3 molar ratio variation (Figure 4.3). In
particular the resulted shapes were: desert roses (DRs), branched multipods (MPs)
and single microwires (MWs), obtained with this shape-controlled synthesis by adjusting the KOH : ZnN O3 molar ratio to 2, 8 and 12, respectively. The respective
morphologies, together with the image of the commercially purchased particles (C)
are reported in Figure 4.4 after FESEM characterization. All the synthesized structures have approximately uniform morphologies and dimensions. DRs structures
(insets of Figure 4.4 a) consist in several flower-like aggregates of about 2m in
diameter and each one of them is composed by nanosized petals with a thickness of
about 50nm. The MPs particles (inset of Figure 4.4b) are about 7m in diameter
40

4 Synthesis and Characterization of Zinc Oxide and Polydimethyl-Siloxane Composite Material

and composed of many wires with flat tips and hexagonal cross sections. These
wires are assembled spokewise and projected from a common central zone to form
the multipod architecture. The ZnO MWs in the inset of Figure 4.4c are single
wire with flat tips and hexagonal cross section, with a length varying from 10 to
15m and a wire diameter of about 300 500nm. It is worth noting that each petal
in the DRs or wire in both MPs and MWs structure have approximately the same
thickness or dimension, indicating that their growth is strictly oriented and limited
to the 2D plane during the whole growing process.

Figure 4.4. FESEM images of ZnO microparticles sythetized having dierent morphologies: (a) Desert Roses (DRs); (b) Multipods (MPs); (c) Microwires (MWs);
(d) Commercial powder (C)

X-ray diraction patterns (Figure 4.5a) of all the ZnO particles either synthesized and commercially purchased shows reflection which can be all assigned to single
phase wurtzite ZnO crystals (JCPDS 80 0074, hexagonal, space group P 63mc).
All the diraction peaks are sharp, indicating that the product has a high degree of
crystallinity and high purity.
41

4 Synthesis and Characterization of Zinc Oxide and Polydimethyl-Siloxane Composite Material

Figure 4.5.

(a) X-ray diraction pattern and (b) Nitrogen sorption isotherms of


all the ZnO microparticles in powder form.

The growth mechanism leading to dierent particle morphologies can be speculated. In general during the hydrothermal reaction, the hydroxyl groups of KOH
react with the zinc cations Zn2+ through coordination or electrostatic interactions,
forming Zn(OH)2
4 growth units (Equations 4.1 and 4.2). Then ZnO nucleates from
the solution of Zn(OH)24 forming multinuclei aggregates (Equation 4.3).
Zn2+ + 2OH Zn(OH)2

(4.1)

Zn(OH)2 + 2OH Zn(OH)2


4

(4.2)

Zn(OH)24 ZnO + H2 O + 2OH

(4.3)

At the low temperature used here (70C) both the nucleation and growth mechanism of ZnO structure proceeded slowly, leading to thermodynamically stable products. This is because the crystallizing structures tend to aggregate and to follow the
42

4 Synthesis and Characterization of Zinc Oxide and Polydimethyl-Siloxane Composite Material

lowest-energy path. Being the (001) face the highest-energy surface of the wurtzite
ZnO crystal, the c-axis resulted the fastest grow direction, thus leading to 2D wires
in the case of MPs and MWs structures or 2D petals in the DRs morphology.

Figure 4.6.

Growth sketch of ZnO crystal.

However, from both Equations 4.1 and 4.2, it is clear that the concentration
of hydroxyl groups [OH ] plays a fundamental role in the reaction with ZnO precursors, thus leading to dierent morphologies. In particular we experimentally
observed that by increasing the molar ratio of KOH : ZnN O3 , thus increasing the
concentration of hydroxyl ions in the solution, a morphology shift from flower-like
to wires is obtained. Indeed at high [OH ], thus in the case of MWs synthesis, both
nucleation and crystal growth proceed faster with respect to the synthesis of MPs
and DRs. Therefore, large amounts of ZnO nuclei and Zn(OH)4 growth units are
formed rapidly at the same time. As mentioned above, the growth along the [001]
direction, thus along the c-axis, is preferred, therefore the Zn(OH)4 growth units
add preferentially to the highest energy surface (001) of every nucleus. This causes
the generation of numerous and single ZnO wires, as in the case of the sample MWs.
The lower [OH ] lead in contrast to slower nucleation and crystal growth. Thus
the crystallizing units tend to aggregate, following the lowest-energy path, leading
to wires or petals aggregates, as in the case of MPs and DRs, respectively.
Nitrogen sorption measurements were used to calculate the specific surface area
(SBET ) of all the four ZnO particles obtained. The Figure 4.5b shows adsorptiondesorption isotherms of type III for all the ZnO samples, thus imputable to nonporous material. The presence of nanostructured petals in the DRs sample leads
some level of porosities.

43

4 Synthesis and Characterization of Zinc Oxide and Polydimethyl-Siloxane Composite Material

4.3.4

Composite Preparation

To prepare the composite ZnO + P DM S, ZnO particles were used as filler in a


Dow Corning bi-component polydimethylsiloxane (P DM S, Sylgard 184) rubber.
The dried particles were firstly dispersed in the PDMS base to obtain composites:
PDMS to ZnO 50 : 50 and PDMS to ZnO 60 : 40 . The blend was gently mixed
in order to avoid the destruction of the tips on the particles surface. Afterwards,
the P DM S curing agent was added at the weight ratio of 1 : 10 with respect to
the P DM S base and the resulting paste was outgassed for 1 hour under vacuum at
room temperature to eliminate all the trapped air bubbles. Composite curing was
carried out in polymethylmethacrylate (P M M A) moulds at 70C for 24h, leading to
10x10mm composite with a constant thickness (1mm).

4.3.5

Composite Characterization

After the preparation of the composite many samples were obtained and characterized. In particular, samples were sandwiched between two sheets of copper-metalized
Kapton and connected with two copper wires so to have easily access to output signals to perform an electrical characterization. Square flat samples with area of
100mm2 and thickness of 1mm are mounted on the top of a load cell (208C02 by
PCB Piezotronics), screwed in the plate of a Tira S51110 shaker, powered with
a Tira BAA120 amplifier and controlled by VibrationResearch V R9500 controller.
Once the shaker is activated, the beam height is regulated until the force measured
by the load cell reaches the value of 10N : this condition ensures that the contact is eectively achieved, and it is used as an initial condition for measurements.
Measurements are performed with National Instruments DAQ model 6259, directly
connecting the composite material with the input of the board. Time-domain, open
load voltage data are collected, in order to evaluate influence of particles structure
and percentage on the output amplitude.
44

4 Synthesis and Characterization of Zinc Oxide and Polydimethyl-Siloxane Composite Material

4.3.6

Composite: Results and Discussion

Figure 4.7.

Peak Voltages produced by the dierent morphologies obtained at


dierent molar ratio.

As can be seen from the above figure (Figure 4.7 ) a general enhancement of the
performance, in terms of peak-to-peak voltage, is achieved increasing the amount
of filler (note that the percentage is intended with respect to the overall weight).
Results related with 50% composite are not reliable, since the amount of powder
dispersed into the PDMS copolimer is too high to allow a correct mixing and degasification of the composite. This leads to non-homogeneous samples, that are not
suitable for charge generation. According to the measurements, the best composite
is PDMS to ZnO 60 : 40.

Figure 4.8.

Voltages produced by the sample ZnO to P DM S 60 : 40, measured


with dierent load conditions.

45

4 Synthesis and Characterization of Zinc Oxide and Polydimethyl-Siloxane Composite Material

Figure 4.9.

Currents produced by the sample ZnO to P DM S 60 : 40, measured


with dierent load conditions.

In fig4.8 and 4.9 voltage and currents measured from the sample ZnO to P DM S
60 : 40 with dierent load conditions are presented. Discrete values of resistance
are chosen, so to cover a wide range of realistic load conditions. Due to the extremely high internal impedance of the composite at realistic working conditions
(50 100Hz) output voltage can be correctly measured only with high values of
load, i.e. R > 100k. On the other hand, current values can be collected for lower
values of resistances, i.e. R < 200k. Aggregated results are presented in figure
4.10.

Figure 4.10.

V/I characteristic measured with dierent load conditions.

Peak output power is then calculated as Pp = Vp Ip and its values are shown in
46

4 Synthesis and Characterization of Zinc Oxide and Polydimethyl-Siloxane Composite Material

figure 4.11.

Figure 4.11.

Powers calculeted with dierent load conditions.

It is evident a peak power of 30W produced by the sample ZnO to P DM S


60 : 40.

47

Chapter 5
Energy Harvesting Circuits
5.1

Introduction

In order to extract the electrical energy produced by the piezoelectric material, it is


necessary to connect it to a circuit.
Charging a storage component such as a battery or a capacitor requires a stable DC
signal to be obtained. For this purpose, it is necessary to use an AC-DC converter
that consists of a rectifier bridge and a smoothing capacitor. The rectified voltage
level usually depends on the vibration amplitude. Therefore, one cannot achieve
the optimal rectified voltage for all vibration levels if a simple AC-DC converter is
used. Often a DC-DC converter is connected after the AC-DC converter to regulate
its DC output for the maximum power transfer to the battery through impedance
matching. [40] This chapter briefly describes some of the major papers from the literature of piezoelectric energy harvesting circuits. First, lumped-parameter modeling
of a piezoelectric energy harvester with a standard (one-stage) energy harvesting
interface (AC-DC converter) is summarized to express the rectified voltage and the
average power in terms of the vibration input. Then, the two-stage approach of
combining a DC-DC converter with the AC-DC converter is discussed

5.2

Devices based on AC-DC Rectification

This section discusses an analysis of the standard interface used for converting the
AC output of the harvester to a stable DC output. Figure5.1 shows a cantilevered
piezoelectric energy harvester connected to a standard AC-DC converter (one-stage
energy harvesting interface) prior to the resistive load R.
The full-wave rectifier is followed by a smoothing capacitor (Ce ) to obtain a
constant rectified voltage (Vc ). Shu and Lien [41] represent the piezoelectric energy harvester by a lumped-parameter system as depicted in Figure5.1 and provide
48

5 Energy Harvesting Circuits

Figure 5.1.

Standard AC-DC energy harvesting circuit [40]

derivations for estimating the harvested power considering the rectified DC voltage.
The fundamental steps of their derivation are summarized here.

5.2.1

Circuit Analysis

Using a lumped-parameter electromechanical model with a single mechanical degree


of freedom, Shu and Lien [41] take into account the eect of piezoelectric power
generation on the harvester so that the current output of the harvester is a dependent variable. Moreover, they [41] consider the phase angle between the external
forcing and the vibration response. The electromechanical equations for the lumpedparameter representation are[41]:
M u(t) + u(t)
+ Ku(t) + Vp (t) = F (t)

(5.1)

u(t)
+ Cp V p (t) = I(t)

(5.2)

where M is the eective mass, K is the eective stiness, is the eective


damping coecient, is the eective piezoelectric coupling coecient, Cp is the
eective capacitance, u(t) is the transverse displacement at the tip of the cantilever,
Vp (t) is the voltage across the piezoceramic, and F (t) is the excitation force. The
current I(t) flowing into AC-DC harvesting circuit is given by

Vc (t)

if
V p = Vc
Ce Vc (t) + R
Vc (t)

I(t) = Ce Vc (t) R
(5.3)
if
Vp = Vc

0
if
|Vp | < Vc

where R is the external resistive load. It is well known that the rectified voltage is
independent of the smoothing capacitor if the time constant RCe is much larger than
the period of oscillation of the harvester. The bridge is open-circuited if |Vp | < Vc
49

5 Energy Harvesting Circuits

, hence there is no current flow. When |Vp | reaches Vc , the bridge conducts and
the piezoelectric voltage is blocked at the rectified voltage: |Vp | = Vc . Then, the
conductance in the diodes is blocked again when Vp starts decreasing. Therefore
Vp (t) either changes proportionally with u(t) when the bridge blocks, or is equal to
Vc when the bridge conducts. Hence, for a sinusoidal excitation of the form
F (t) = F0 sint

(5.4)

where F0 is the constant excitation amplitude and is very close to the resonance
frequency, the steady-state displacement and the piezoelectric voltage are assumed
to have the following forms:
u(t) = u0 sin(t )

(5.5)

Vp (t) = g(t )

(5.6)

Here, u0 is the constant displacement amplitude, g(t) is a periodic function with


2 period (|g(t)|?Vc ) and is the phase relative to the forcing function.
Therefore, integrating Equation (11.2) over an interval [ti ; tf ]
2R
u0
2Cp R +

(5.7)

Vc2
42 R 2
=
u2
R
(2Cp R + )2 0

(5.8)

Vc =
Hence the average power output is
P =

which requires the vibration amplitude u0 to be known. Eventually, the displacement


amplitude is obtained in terms of the forcing amplitude and the system parameters
as
u0 = +

5.3

22 R
(Cp R+ 2 )2

-2

F0
+ (K

2M

2 R
)2
Cp R+ 2

(5.9)

Two-Stage Energy Harvesting Circuit Approach

Since the mechanical excitation level and therefore the rectified voltage level are not
constant in most practical applications, Ottman et al. [42] proposed using a DC-DC
converter right after the AC-DC converter of the standard one-stage interface so that
the DC output of the rectifier can be regulated to maximize the power transfer to
the storage device. They introduced an adaptive DC-DC converter for this purpose
and observed a 400% increase of energy flow to the battery compared to the simple
50

5 Energy Harvesting Circuits

Figure 5.2.

Generalized two-stage piezoelectric energy harvesting circuit [40]

AC-DC conversion interface. Guan and Liao [44] summarize the optimized twostage energy harvesting process introduced by Ottman et al. [43] through Figure5.2
and provide an eciency estimate for the step-down DC-DC converter in terms of
the voltage levels of the storage device and other components. In the generalized
two-stage, the piezoelectric power output is first rectified to the temporary storage
capacitor C0 , whose voltage level is kept at the optimal rectifier voltage. The input
power is then transferred to the storage device (which has a voltage level of Vesd )
through the DC-DC converter for the maximum power transfer. Guan and Liao [44]
then focus on the DC-DC converter to estimate its eciency:
c =

Vrect + VD Vces Vesd


Vrect
Vesd + VD

(5.10)

where Vrect is the rectifier voltage, Vesd is the voltage of the energy storage device,
VD is the forward bias of the diode D1 in Figure5.2, and Vces is the voltage drop of the
internal switch Tr . Hence the eciency of the converter depends on several voltage
parameters (some of them are simply read from data sheets, such as the bias voltage
of the diode) including the voltage level of the storage device. After validating their
expression of the converter eciency, Guan and Liao [44] show theoretically and
51

5 Energy Harvesting Circuits

experimentally that the standard one-stage interface can have a higher eciency
than the two-stage interface depending on the voltage of the storage device. They
conclude that, if an optimal voltage level is chosen for the energy storage device, the
standard one-stage interface (Figure5.1) can be more ecient than the two-stage
interface (Figure5.2) as the amount of energy collected in the DC-DC converter
might cancel the benefits of using the two-stage interface. However, very often
the voltage level of the storage device is a fixed parameter due to the application
requirements.

5.4

Design of the Energy Harveter Circuit

On the basis of the previous circuits the designed circuit in Fig 5.3 is a three-stage
circuit composed by an AC-DC converter of the standard one-stage interface, right
after a DC-DC converter so that the DC output of the rectifier can be regulated to
maximize the power trasfer and then an LDO to provide a quiet and stable output
in all circumstances to power digital electronics (e.g.microcontrollers).

Figure 5.3.

52

5 Energy Harvesting Circuits

5.4.1

Designed Circuit Analysis

AC-DC Module
The AC-DC module of the previous ciurcuit is a simple bridge rectifier, provides
full-wave rectification from a two-wire AC input. It uses four individual rectifying
diodes connected in a closed loop bridge configuration to produce the desired output.
The single secondary winding is connected to one side of the diode bridge network
and the load to the other side as shown below.

Figure 5.4.

Diode Bridge Rectifier

The four diodes labelled D1 to D4 are arranged in series pairs with only two
diodes conducting current during each half cycle. During the positive half cycle of
the supply, diodes D1 and D2 conduct in series while diodes D3 and D4 are reverse
biased and the current flows through the load as shown below.

Figure 5.5.

Positive Half Cycle of Diode Bridge Rectifier

During the negative half cycle of the supply, diodes D3 and D4 conduct in series,
but diodes D1 and D2 switch OFF as they are now reverse biased.
53

5 Energy Harvesting Circuits

Figure 5.6.

Negative Half Cycle of Diode Bridge Rectifier

During each half cycle the current flows through two diodes so the amplitude of
the output voltage is two voltage drops less than the input VM AX amplitude and so
they are choosen with the lowest voltage drop to rectify the gratest amount of the
voltage input.

54

5 Energy Harvesting Circuits

DC-DC Converter
The second stage of the proposed circuit is a DC-DC converter and in particular a
Boost converter as in Figure5.7. A boost converter or step-up converter is a DC-

Figure 5.7.

Boost Converter Basic Schematic

to-DC power converter with an output voltage greater than its input voltage. It
is a class of switched-mode power supply (SMPS) containing two semiconductors a
diode and a transistor(switch) and at least one energy storage element, a capacitor,
inductor, or the two in combination. Filters made of capacitors (sometimes in
combination with inductors) are normally added to the output of the converter to
reduce output voltage ripple. Nglecting the voltage drops on diode and switch it
presented a general analysis of the circuit:
When the switch is closed the voltage drop on the inductor is
VL = Vi

(5.11)

If the switch is open the voltage drop on the inductor is dierent: the current
flows into the diode resulting in a voltage drop on the output so
V L = V i Vu

(5.12)

In Figure5.8 and in Figure5.9 are rapresented the voltage and the current on the
inductor in Current Continuous Mode(CCM) that is the current in the inductor
never reaches the 0 value.
From the pictures, there is an inversion of polarity of VL so it is clear that
|Vu | > Vi from here Step Up Converter.
Supposing the switch closed
IB = IA + T 1
55

Vi
L

(5.13)

5 Energy Harvesting Circuits

Figure 5.8.

Inductor Voltage (VL ) vs time

Figure 5.9.

Inductor Current (IL ) vs time

With the switch opened


I A = IB T 2
56

Vu V i
L

(5.14)

5 Energy Harvesting Circuits

so
T1

Vi
V u Vi
= T2
L
L

(5.15)

T 1 V i = T 2 Vu T 2 Vi

(5.16)

(T1 + T2 )Vi = T2 Vu

(5.17)

from here
finally
Vu
M=
=
Vi

T1
1+
T2

"

1
1 Dc

(5.18)

It presents a denominator with a zero. Studyng the loop function of the system
we will find this term will cause a 0 in the right half plane of the Laplace at low
frequencies so if the gain is high at these frequencies it could make the system
instable. Out of these problems the boost converter is used as prer egulator: usig
a boost to step up the input voltage and then an LDO to stabilize it like in this
design.
LDO Regulator
The last stage is a LDO. A low-dropout or LDO regulator is a DC linear voltage
regulator which can operate with a very small inputoutput dierential voltage. The
advantages of a low dropout voltage include a lower minimum operating voltage,
higher eciency operation and lower heat dissipation. The main components are a
power FET and a dierential amplifier (error amplifier). One input of the dierential
amplifier monitors the fraction of the output determined by the resistor ratio of R1
and R2 . The second input to the dierential amplifier is from a stable voltage
reference (bandgap reference). If the output voltage rises too high relative to the
reference voltage, the drive to the power FET changes to maintain a constant output
voltage.

Figure 5.10.

LDO regulator Basic Schematic

57

5 Energy Harvesting Circuits

Low-dropout (LDO) regulators work in the same way as all linear voltage regulators. The main dierence between LDO and non-LDO regulators is their schematic
topology. Instead of an emitter follower topology, low-dropout regulators use open
collector or open drain topology. In this topology, the transistor may be easily
driven into saturation with the voltages available to the regulator. This allows the
voltage drop from the unregulated voltage to the regulated voltage to be as low as
the saturation voltage across the transistor.
For the circuit given in Figure5.10, the output voltage is given as:
!
"
R1
Vout = Vref 1 +
(5.19)
R2
All the details regarding the design of this circuit are given in the next chapter.

58

Chapter 6
Circuit Design and Simulations
6.1

Introduction

In this chapter are provided all the details for the design of the energy harvesting
circuit mentioned in the previuos chapter. Futhermore there are all the principal
simulations of the circuit performed in OrCad and Pspice.

6.2

Design Specification

The goal of this thesis is to design the appropiate passive front-end circuit for harvesting applications, hence no external power supply can be used. The designed
block must be inserted between the piezoelectric material and a storage element in
order to maximize the ecency of the whole system. In accordance with arguments
reported in Chapter 4, due to the extremely high internal impedance of the composite at realistic working conditions (50-100Hz), output voltage can be correctly
measured only with high values of load, i.e. R > 100k as can be seen in Figure
??.

59

6 Circuit Design and Simulations

Figure 6.1.

Voltages produced by the composite ZnO + P DM S measured with


dierent load conditions.

The voltage waveform produced by the material adopted in the following design
is the green one in Figure 6.1, corresponding to a load resistance of 10M at a
frequency of 75Hz. In order to guarantee suciently high eciency for the system
the output voltage has been decided to be equal or greater of the positive peak of
the input voltage. Hence
Vin,p = 1.6V
Vout 1.6V
fin = fout
In next section the main steps of the design process are described.

6.3

Circuit Design

In Figure 6.2 the Orcad schematic of the designed circuit is depicted.

60

6 Circuit Design and Simulations

Figure 6.2.

6.3.1

Schematic implementend in OrCad Simulator

Piezoelectric Material Model

As can be seen from the Figure 6.2, the piezoelectric material is modelled as a
voltage generator producing the waveform mentioned before (Figure 6.1) and a series
of two schotcky diodes. The schottky diodes model the real contacts created when
the samples are sandwiched between two sheets of copper-metallized Kapton and
connected with two copper wires so to have easily access to output signals. In parallel
with the diodes are present also two capacitances wich also are needed to model the
contacts, whose values are chosen in a range of tenths of micrometers. In particular,
there are two capacitors of 4m to ensure a returning path for the current. These
values are in accordance with the experimental results as it will become evident in
the next chapter.

6.3.2

AC-DC Stage

The first stage of the circuit is the full-wave rectifier in a bridge configuration:
it provides full-wave rectification from a two wire AC input. The diodes used in
this schematic are M BR140P and are shotcky diodes with low forward voltage, in
particular, for each diode Vf = 0.350V ,these low values are needed to avoid a too
high voltage drop on them resulting in a reduced output voltage.
M BR140P : Vf = 0.350V
61

6 Circuit Design and Simulations

6.3.3

BOOST Regulator

The second stage is represented by the Boost voltage regulator whose task is to
increase and regulate the rectified waveform received as input. The choosen one is
the NCP1400ASN19T1 (see Figure 6.3).

Figure 6.3.

BOOST Regulator schematic from datasheet.

The NCP1400ASN19T1 is a micropower step-up DC to DC converters specifically


designed for powering portable equipment. This device is designed to start-up with
a cell voltage of 0.8V and operate down to less than 0.2V and gives in output
a maximum voltage of 1.6V . Each device consists of an on chip fixed frequency
oscillator that oscillate at fO = 180KHz. It is capable of up to 100mA of output
current.
0.2V Vin 0.8V
Vout = 1.6V
fO = 180KHz
Iout 100mA
It fits well the specifications of the rectified waveform after the first stage as can be
seen in the section Simulation. With only four external components, this component
allows a simple means to implement highly ecient converters. The NCP1400A
device uses the Thin SOT-23-5 package.
The four external components are:
62

6 Circuit Design and Simulations

INDUCTOR
Inductance values between 18H and 27H are the best suitable values for
NCP1400A. In general, smaller inductance values can provide larger peak inductor current and output current capability, and lower conversion eciency,
and vice versa. The inductor selected for this schematic is 22H/1.11A.
L1 = 22H/1.11A

SM 1206

DIODE
The diode is the largest source of loss in DC-DC converters. The most importance parameters which aect their eciency are the forward voltage drop,
Vf . The forward voltage drop creates a loss just by having a voltage across the
device while a current flowing through it. A schottky diode with the following
characteristics is recommended:
Small forward voltage, VF 0.35V
Small reverse leakage current
The selected one is the previous MBR140P whose characteristics fit well the
recommended ones.
D1 = M BR140P : Vf = 0.350V
INPUT CAPACITOR
The input capacitor can stabilize the input voltage and minimize peak current
ripple from the source. The value of the capacitor depends on the impedance
of the input source used. Small ESR (Equivalent Series Resistance) Tantalum
or ceramic capacitor with value of 10F should be suitable. The selected one
is the Low profile tantalum capacitor 10F/16V
C1 = 10F/16V

P AN ASON IC C

OUTPUT CAPACITOR
The output capacitor is used for sustaining the output voltage when the internal MOSFET is switched on and smoothing the ripple voltage. Low ESR
capacitor should be used to reduce output ripple voltage. In general, a 47F
to 68F low ESR (0.15to0.30) Tantalum capacitor should be appropriate.
The selected one is the following the low ESR Tantalum capacitor 68F/10V
C2 = 68F/10V

P AN ASON IC C
63

6 Circuit Design and Simulations

6.3.4

LDO Regulator

The third stage of this schematic is the LDO, whose task is to stabilize the output
voltage coming from the pre-regulator BOOST to power digital electronics such
as microcontrollers. The selected one is NCP511(Figure 6.4). It features an ultra
low quiescent current of 40mA, accept in input voltages from 0V to 6.0V and gives
an output voltage comprised between 0.3toVin + 0.3V .
Low Dropout Voltage of Vdo = 100mV at 100mA
Excellent Line and Load Regulation
0V Vin 6V
Vout = 0.3toVin + 0.3
Iq = 40mA
Cout 1.0F
It contains a voltage reference unit, an error amplifier, a PMOS power transistor,
resistors for setting output voltage, current limit, and temperature limit protection
circuits. The NCP511 has been designed to be used with low cost ceramic capacitors
and requires a minimum output capacitor of 1.0F . The device is housed in the
micro-miniature TSOP-5 surface mount package. These specifications fit well with
the output waveform of the Boost reguator as it can be seen in the simulation section.

Figure 6.4.

LDO Application Circuit from datasheet

64

6 Circuit Design and Simulations

Figure 6.5.

6.4

LDO Internal Schematic from datasheet

Component List

Name in the schematic

Type

D1
D2
D3
D4
D5
Rs1
Resr2
R4
R3
Lp
C4
Cout1
C2
BOOST
LDO

M BR140P
M BR140P
M BR140P
M BR140P
M BR140P
RESIST OR, 0603, 1%, 0.01R
RESIST OR, 0603, 1%, 0.15R
not used
RESIST OR, 0603, 1%, R2.5
IN DU CT OR, 1206, 22H, 1,11A
CAP , ALU ELEC, 10F , 16V
CAP , ALU ELEC, 68F , 10V
CAP , ALU ELEC, 1F , 35V
N CP 1400ASN 19T 1G
N CP 511SN 25

65

6 Circuit Design and Simulations

6.5

Simulations Results

In this section we present the verification of the designed circuit through simulation
in OrCad-PsPice. The schematic is shown again in the Figure 6.6, whose blocks
have been described in previous sections.

Figure 6.6.

Schematic implented in OrCad Simulator

66

6 Circuit Design and Simulations

The simulation process has been performed imposing an input voltage of the
genator circuit given in the Figure 6.1(the green one) and extracted by experimental
characterization of the material. The input waveform below (the red one) has been
amplified by a factor of 10 to achieve the results shown: this allowed us to take into
account approximately the voltage drop across the diodes modelling the contacts
since the original measured voltage extracted in a dierent condition. The validity
of this design assumption will be confirmed by the experimental measurements. The
green trace is the output of the LDO.

Figure 6.7.

Vin (t)(red)

The first block in the circuit is a diode rectifier. The figure below shows the
input and output voltages: as it is evident the component rectifies correctly the
input voltage by producing an output signal that never becames negative.

67

6 Circuit Design and Simulations

Figure 6.8.

Vinbridge (t) (green) Voutbridge (t) (violet)

The rectified voltage is given as input to the DC-DC Boost Converter aimed at
producing a possibly constant voltage of fixed value(Vout = 1.6V ). Its behaviour
is confirmed by the curves plotted in figure 6.9. The output voltage is almost
constant and fixed around a value of 1.4V in accordance with the specifications
of the component datasheet. However the output voltage is subjected to evident
fluctuations wich make the signal not suited to supply digital electronics devices.
The reason for the signal variations is related to the large variability of the input
signal wich goes out of the input voltage range for some time intervals during a
period.

Figure 6.9.

Vinboost (t) (red) Voutboost (t) (green)

68

6 Circuit Design and Simulations

Finally, the last component to be simulated is the LDO. It recives in input the
previous waveform subjected to fluctuations and its fundamental task is to stabilize it
to a fixed and costant voltage to power microelectronics devices. From the simulation
perfeormed in figure 6.10 it is clear that the output waveform of the whole system
is stable and its value is about 1.2V .

Figure 6.10.

VinLDO (t) (green) VoutLDO (t) (red)

69

6 Circuit Design and Simulations

6.6

Experimental Results

After these simulations the PCB footprint was designed in Eagle simulator(Figure
6.11) and produced by Chilab - Materials and Microsystems Laboratory- Chivasso
TO (Figure 6.12).

Figure 6.11.

Eagle design of the previous energy harvester circuit

Figure 6.12.

PCB produced in Chivasso laboratories

All the components mentioned were ordered on Farnells site and soldered in IIT
laboratories to the printed circuit board(Figure 6.13).
The resulted circuit was tested a first time to verify the correct behaviour by
means of an oscilloscope with a generic sinusoidal waveform as input. Later it was
directly connected to the material already mounted on the shaker. The shaker was
needed to apply to the composite a 75Hz mechanical stimulus that produced the
voltage waveform in Figure 6.1 to apply to the circuit.
The voltage output measured directly on the board is shown below(Figure 6.14):
70

6 Circuit Design and Simulations

Figure 6.13.

Figure 6.14.

PCB soldered in IIT Laboratories.

Measured output voltage(VLDO ) on the oscilloscope.

The resulting waveform satisfies the design specifications. It is stable around a


mid value of 1.2V and it suces to power micro-power digital devices.

71

Chapter 7
Conclusion
Piezoelectric materials have been used in recent years with the aim of energy harvesting: to convert mechanical energy into electrical energy. The goal of this thesis
was to prepare a new piezoelectric lead free material composite and to devolop
an appropriate front-end circuit for the purpose of energy scavenging. The material investigated should be suitable to replace the commercial PZT, which contains
lead(P b) pernicious to humans. The one taken into account was ZnO + P DM S
because zinc oxide nano-wires showed good piezoelectric properties. Firstly, ZnO
in powder form was sythesised by hydrothermal route and characterized to observe
the various morphologies obtained. Then ZnO + P DM S were syntesized and characterized to measure currents and voltages produced.
Results showed that the best one suitable for charge generation was with a ratio
P DM S to ZnO 60:40. In this work I developed also a specific passive front-end
circuit (no power supply) with the purpose of charging a storage component such
as a capacitor to supply micropower digital devices. It was designed with a prior
knowledge of the waveform and the frequency in input. The mentioned circuit was
designed in OrCad Simulator and I have performed many simulations in PsPice to
verify the correct behaviour of the whole system.
After these verifications the PCB footprint was designed in Eagle simulator and
produced by Chivasso laboratories. All the components designed, were ordered on
Farnells site and soldered in IIT laboratories to the printed circuit board. The
resulted circuit was tested a first time to verify the correct behaviour by mean of
an oscilloscope with a generic sinusoidal waveform as input. Later it was directly
connected to the material already mounted on the shaker. The shaker was required
to apply a 75 Hz mechanical stimulus to the composite, so to achieve the right
voltage waveform to apply to the circuit. The results showed the correct design of
the circuit.

72

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75