The first part of this blog series, Smart Energy Harvesting: A new method for Electronics, Part 1, describes the utilization of energy harvesting from the environment to feed electronic circuitry. This solution leads to decreasing the dependency on frequent recharges of electronic gadgets like smartphones or tablets. The energy harvested has to be converted in electrical energy: the more effective this conversion will be, the smarter will be the power management procedure that can make life easier for users of electronics technology, because there’s no need for any other power source to recharge batteries frequently. Recently, a new type of batteries for electronics have been introduced with a high efficiency up to 44%, this achievement goes in the direction of a smart effective utilization of solar renewable energy (see Figure 1):
The new 3D solar cell developed by the researchers of the George Washington University (Credit: George Washington University)
“A George Washington University researcher helped design and construct a prototype for a new solar cell that integrates multiple cells stacked into a single device capable of capturing nearly all of the energy in the solar spectrum.
The new design, which converts direct sunlight to electricity with 44.5 percent efficiency, has the potential to become the most efficient solar cell in the world.
The approach is different from the solar panels commonly seen on rooftops or in fields. The new device uses concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) panels that use lenses to concentrate sunlight onto tiny, micro-scale solar cells. Because of their small size—less than one millimeter square—solar cells that utilize more sophisticated materials can be developed cost effectively.” (Source: GWTODAY)
The basic strategy of the 3D solar cell is to collect as much energy as possible from the environment, and this is the same approach of the cellphone that works without batteries that has been introduced in part one of this blog series. (see Figure 2):
The cellphone that harvests energy to power up its circuitry. (Source: YouTube).
“…the battery-free cellphone takes advantage of tiny vibrations in a phone’s microphone or speaker that occur when a person is talking into a phone or listening to a call. An antenna connected to those components converts that motion into changes in standard analog radio signal emitted by a cellular base station. This process essentially encodes speech patterns in reflected radio signals in a way that uses almost no power. To transmit speech, the phone uses vibrations from the device’s microphone to encode speech patterns in the reflected signals. To receive speech, it converts encoded radio signals into sound vibrations that that are picked up by the phone’s speaker.” (Source: UWNEWS)
See the following video from YouTube:
The solution of converting vibrations into electric signals is perfectly suited for electronics technology that can utilize this feature of the so-called piezoelectric effect (see Figure 3):
The piezoelectric materials are able to convert a mechanical stress into electric power. (Source:See this link for a larger view of Figure 2 Quora)
Do you find smart energy harvesting an interesting field of development for electronics technology? Do you work in this field? Have you experienced anything like this solution?