Nonlinear Mechanism in MEMS Devices for Energy Harvesting Applications

Abstract : This paper reports a novel bistable microelectromechanical system for energy harvesting applications. In particular, we focus here on methodologies and devices for recovering energy from mechanical vibrations. A common energy harvesting approach is based on vibrating mechanical bodies that collect energy through the adoption of self-generating materials. This family of systems has a linear mass–spring damping behaviour and shows good performance around its natural frequency. However, it is not generally suitable for energy recovery in a wide spectrum of frequencies as expected in the vast majority of cases when ambient vibrations assume different forms and the energy is distributed over a wide range of frequencies. Furthermore, whenever the vibrations have a low frequency content the implementation of an integrated energy harvesting device is challenging; in fact large masses and devices would be needed to obtain resonances at low frequencies. Here, the idea is to consider the nonlinear behaviour of a bistable system to enhance device performances in terms of response to external vibrations. The switching mechanism is based on a structure that oscillates around one of the two stable states when the stimulus is not large enough to switch to the other stable state and that moves around the other stable state as soon as it is excited over the threshold. A response improvement can be demonstrated compared to the classical linear approach. Indeed, both a wider spectrum will appear as a consequence of the nonlinear term and a significant amount of energy is collected at low frequencies. In this paper the bistable working principle is first described and analytically modelled, and then a numerical study based on stochastic differential equations (SDE) is realized to evaluate the behaviour of a MEMS device. A micromachined SOI prototype has been realized and a measurement campaign validated the nonlinear mechanism. As expected, the study shows that the nonlinear system exhibits a low pass filter behaviour suitable for harvesting ambient energy at low frequency.
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Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering, IOP Publishing, 2010, 20 (12), pp.1-12. 〈10.1088/0960-1317/20/12/125020〉
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Carlo Trigona, Bruno Ando, Salvatore Baglio, Pascal Nouet, Laurent Latorre, et al.. Nonlinear Mechanism in MEMS Devices for Energy Harvesting Applications. Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering, IOP Publishing, 2010, 20 (12), pp.1-12. 〈10.1088/0960-1317/20/12/125020〉. 〈lirmm-00555283〉

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