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 Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo
19.03.2018 | Universität Basel

nachricht Scientists develop new tool for imprinting biochips
09.03.2018 | Advanced Science Research Center, GC/CUNY

All articles from Interdisciplinary Research >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

Im Focus: Basel researchers succeed in cultivating cartilage from stem cells

Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.

Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...

Im Focus: Like a wedge in a hinge

Researchers lay groundwork to tailor drugs for new targets in cancer therapy

In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...

Im Focus: The Future of Ultrafast Solid-State Physics

In an article that appears in the journal “Review of Modern Physics”, researchers at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (LAP) assess the current state of the field of ultrafast physics and consider its implications for future technologies.

Physicists can now control light in both time and space with hitherto unimagined precision. This is particularly true for the ability to generate ultrashort...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Diamond-like carbon is formed differently to what was believed -- machine learning enables development of new model

19.04.2018 | Materials Sciences

Electromagnetic wizardry: Wireless power transfer enhanced by backward signal

19.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Ultrafast electron oscillation and dephasing monitored by attosecond light source

19.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>