Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Autonomous energy-scavenging micro devices will test water quality, monitor bridges, more

14.06.2013
Out in the wilds or anywhere off the grid, sophisticated instruments small enough to fit in a shirt pocket will one day scavenge power from sunlight, body heat, or other sources to monitor water quality or bridge safety, enabling analysis in the field rather than bringing samples and data back to the lab.
Researchers at the University of Waterloo in Ontario are using optics and photonics in their quest to "bring the lab to the sample," said lead researcher Vassili Karanassios of the Department of Chemistry and of the university's Institute for Nanotechnology (WIN) A major aspect of his team's solution, reported in a conference and publication by SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, is scavenging energy from various sources to power instruments at the sample site.

While energy harvesting utilizes sources such as wind power, energy scavenging involves re-using discarded energy, such as the electric light that runs a calculator, Karanassios said.

The team is incorporating wake-up systems in the devices to support energy autonomy, the ability to be powered as needed without an external source, without losing selectivity, the ability to gather and accurately analyze relevant data.

An important feature of his lab's approach is the integration of several features of full-scale laboratory instruments.

"People have experimented with sensors and with lab-on-a-chip devices for a long time," Karanassios said. "But taking an entire instrument to the field in a hand-held device is new. Not many research groups have the expertise to integrate it all, to go from the sensor level to the micro-instrument level."

The team is also working to reduce the power required for miniature instruments that perform optical emission spectrometry -- using light to generate the spectral patterns that are intrinsically unique to materials -- with very small samples. The resulting spectral "signature" is used to identify what is in the sample, for example, in on-site monitoring of water quality.

Among power source optics, sunlight is one obvious answer, Karanassios said, but limited by clouds and brief daylight in some regions. Additional possible sources and applications for energy scavenging are:
Plugging in to human body heat, unobtrusively scavenging energy in the form of otherwise-wasted heat generated by a person while walking, to power instruments for testing water quality or wearable biomedical monitors.
Harnessing animal body heat, to recharge implanted tracking devices. "When tagging and tracking animals in the wild, you do not want to have to catch the same animal one more time just to replace the battery that powers its sensors," Karanassios noted.
Charging up a bridge sensor using mechanical energy generated in a spring-loaded device in the road, activated by vehicles crossing the bridge.

Because smaller sensors and instruments require less power, Karanassios' lab is working toward "shirt-pocket size" micro-instruments that eventually will deliver performance comparable to full-size lab versions.
They have experimented with a device the size of sugar cube that can be used along with a portable spectrometer for rapid screening of environmental contaminants, using spectral lines generated by wavelengths in the visible light and ultraviolet regions.

A paper detailing the work by Karanassios and Waterloo colleagues Donghyun Lee and Gurjit Dulai was published 28 May in the SPIE Digital Library, and presented in a conference on Energy Harvesting and Storage at SPIE Defense, Security, and Sensing (DSS) last month in Baltimore. Titled "Survey of energy harvesting and energy scavenging approaches for on-site powering of wireless sensor- and microinstrument-networks," the paper is available via open access through 31 August 2013.

Karanassios also described the work in a video interview with the SPIE Newsroom, viewable at http://spie.org/x94092.xml (5:58).

SPIE is the international society for optics and photonics, a not-for-profit organization founded in 1955 to advance light-based technologies. The Society serves nearly 235,000 constituents from approximately 155 countries, offering conferences, continuing education, books, journals, and a digital library in support of interdisciplinary information exchange, professional networking, and patent precedent. SPIE provided over $3.2 million in support of education and outreach programs in 2012.

Media contact:
Amy Nelson
Public Relations Manager, SPIE
+1 360 685 5478
amy@spie.org
@SPIEtweets

Amy Nelson | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.sie.org

More articles from Interdisciplinary Research:

nachricht Easier Diagnosis of Esophageal Cancer
06.03.2017 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt

nachricht Sandia uses confined nanoparticles to improve hydrogen storage materials performance
27.02.2017 | DOE/Sandia National Laboratories

All articles from Interdisciplinary Research >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>