Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Multilayer polymers spring into action

11.04.2014

Flexible plastics that turn mechanical vibrations into electrical energy could spur the development of self-powered sensors and devices

The shrinking dimensions and decreased power consumption of modern electronic gadgets have created opportunities for energy harvesting processes that tap into free, green energy from the environment. Vibration harvesters, for example, produce small amounts of electricity from everyday mechanical disturbances such as wind currents, traffic noise or footsteps.


A ‘green’ alternative to batteries that could power electronic devices is one step closer thanks to multilayered polymer cantilevers that can turn mechanical vibrations into electricity.

© Eyematrix/iStock/Thinkstock

Now, Kui Yao and co-workers from the A*STAR Institute of Materials Research and Engineering in Singapore have discovered a way to give lightweight polymer vibration harvesters a hundredfold boost in energy output — a finding that may help to eliminate manual battery recharging in microsensors and mobile devices (1).

Many vibration harvesters contain piezoelectric substances that create an electric voltage when mechanically bent. By fabricating piezoelectric materials into cantilevers that resemble a diving board, these devices can oscillate from ambient vibrations and generate electricity. Researchers often use piezoelectric ceramics because they impart large amounts of electrical charges; however, the brittleness of ceramics makes them unsuitable for prolonged and large vibrational movements.

Yao and co-workers investigated a plastic-based piezoelectric material, polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF), which is low cost and readily undergoes mechanical strain. To make efficient vibration harvesters from PVDF, researchers must stack the polymer in multiple layers, improving the output current and reducing the electrical impedance that is inherent to piezoelectric materials. But when too many thin piezoelectric layers are stacked, the cantilever can become too stiff for bending-mode vibrational harvesting.

To optimize piezoelectric harvesting with plastic films, the team deployed an analytical approach. Developing a mathematical model of a multilayered polymer cantilever coated with metal electrodes, the researchers systematically calculated how different material parameters affected the energy output.

Their simulations revealed some often-ignored factors “such as the thinness of electrode coatings and the material’s electrical parameters,” says Yao. “These can have a dramatic effect on the electricity generated by bending multilayer polymers.”

One key parameter identified was the need to match the electrical impedance with an optimum load resistance. The researchers’ analysis showed that the energy output of a 22-layered piezoelectric structure could be from 5 to 400 times higher than a single-layer piezoelectric polymer of similar dimensions.

The team then tested the feasibility of their analytical results by fabricating a PVDF-based vibrational harvester on a flexible aluminum substrate. They used scalable dip-coating procedures to build up polymer multilayers and ensured thin metal electrode coatings with physical vapor deposition techniques.

“Our experimental results are promising and show that, for many practical applications, piezoelectric polymer multilayers may enable harvested energy to replace batteries,” notes Yao.

The A*STAR-affiliated researchers contributing to this research are from the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering 

Associated links

Journal information

Zhang, L., Oh, S. R., Wong, T. C., Tan, C. Y. & Yao, K. Piezoelectric polymer multilayer on flexible substrate for energy harvesting. IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics and Frequency Control 60, 2013–2020 (2013)

A*STAR Research | Research SEA News
Further information:
http://www.research.a-star.edu.sg
http://www.researchsea.com

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Nano-scale process may speed arrival of cheaper hi-tech products
09.11.2018 | University of Edinburgh

nachricht Nuclear fusion: wrestling with burning questions on the control of 'burning plasmas'
25.10.2018 | Lehigh University

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

Im Focus: Coping with errors in the quantum age

Physicists at ETH Zurich demonstrate how errors that occur during the manipulation of quantum system can be monitored and corrected on the fly

The field of quantum computation has seen tremendous progress in recent years. Bit by bit, quantum devices start to challenge conventional computers, at least...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

How algae and carbon fibers could sustainably reduce the athmospheric carbon dioxide concentration

14.11.2018 | Life Sciences

NIH scientists illuminate causes of hepatitis b virus-associated acute liver failure

14.11.2018 | Life Sciences

The unintended consequences of dams and reservoirs

14.11.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>