Driven by advances in microelectronics, sensors, and radio technology, highly miniature, low cost wireless devices are proliferating rapidly in a wide range of applications. This is enabling the distribution of sensing capability throughout urban and other environments, in the paradigm often known as pervasive sensing, as well as the enhancement of previously passive artefacts with intelligence and connectivity (the “Internet of Things”). These technologies offer major advantages, including enhanced energy efficiency, system resilience and adaptability, and the provision of new functions and services for users. However, adoption is significantly impeded by the maintenance burden of replacing or recharging huge numbers of batteries. Energy harvesting – the collection of otherwise unexploited energy in the local environment – is attracting increasing attention as a solution to this problem. While the power levels that can be reached are typically modest (microwatts to milliwatts), this can be sufficient for an increasing range of wireless devices. This talk will focus on micro-engineered devices for energy harvesting, particularly from motion sources such as machine vibration and human movement, and will present advances to date, fundamental limitations, applications and future trends.
Eric M. Yeatman has been a member of academic staff in Imperial College London since 1989, and Professor of Micro-Engineering since 2005. He has published more than 200 papers and patents, primarily on optical devices and materials, and micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS). He is Deputy Head of the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, and incoming Head from September 2015. He is also Co-Director of the college’s Digital Economy Lab. He is a Fellow and a Silver Medalist of the Royal Academy of Engineering, and a Fellow of the IEEE. Prof. Yeatman is also co-founder and director of Microsaic Systems plc, which develops and markets miniature mass spectrometers, based on MEMS technology, for portable chemical analysis. His current research interests are in energy sources for wireless devices (particularly energy harvesting), radio frequency and photonic MEMS devices, pervasive sensing and sensor networks.