Energy harvesting and novel power supplies for body sensor networks and implantable devices
Using and exploiting ‘free’ ambient energy around us or energy generated through movement to power body-worn and implanted sensor systems.
This project is advertised as part of the EPSRC Doctoral Training Partnership. It is currently not available to self-funded applicants. Find out more information about the DTP including how to apply.
Miniaturised sensor nodes and implantable medical devices do not lend themselves to the use of traditional power sources, either through size constraint, or ease of access for charging or replacing of the power source. Energy harvesting and energy scavenging from ambient or distant sources of power allows the potential for an endless (rather than limitless) supply of energy.
Ambient, body-centric and distant sources of power have low efficiency conversion rates, requiring investigation of the most optimal materials and techniques, and the optimisation of energy conversion circuitry. The power requirements of miniaturised low duty cycle biometric sensors are such that such low efficiency sources have the potential to provide adequate power for these body-worn or implanted devices.
Initial research will focus upon two methods of energy harvesting: Radio frequency harvesting (building upon previous research by the group in this area) and triboelectric nano-generators (an emerging and promising energy harvesting technology showing significant research growth since 2012), taking into account the unique challenges of implantable devices and body-worn systems, and considering efficiency of the different methods and attenuation of a distant supply due to tissue attenuation, or aperiodic generation from ambient sources.
The project will then focus upon developing a miniaturised prototype energy harvesting and storage system suitable for powering implantable medical sensors and transducers.