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Experimental and analytical parametric study of single-crystal unimorph beams for vibration energy harvesting

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4 Author(s)
Karami, M.A. ; Center for Intell. Mater. Syst. & Struct., Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, USA ; Bilgen, O. ; Inman, D.J. ; Friswell, M.I.

This research presents an experimental and theoretical energy harvesting characterization of beam-like, uniform cross-section, unimorph structures employing single-crystal piezoelectrics. Different piezoelectric materials, substrates, and configurations are examined to identify the best design configuration for lightweight energy harvesting devices for low-power applications. Three types of piezoelectrics (single-crystal PMN-PZT, polycrystalline PZT-5A, and PZT-5H-type monolithic ceramics) are evaluated in a unimorph cantilevered beam configuration. The devices have been excited by harmonic base acceleration. All of the experimental characteristics have been used to validate an exact electromechanical model of the harvester. The study shows the optimum choice of substrate material for single-crystal piezoelectric energy harvesting. Comparison of energy scavengers with stainless steel substrates reveals that single-crystal harvesters produce superior power compared with polycrystalline devices. To further optimize the power harvesting, we study the relation between the thickness of the substrate and the power output for different substrate materials. The relation between power and substrate thickness profoundly varies among different substrate materials. The variation is understood by examining the change of mechanical transmissibility and the variations of the coupling figure of merit of the harvesters with thickness ratio. The investigation identifies the optimal thickness of the substrate for different substrate materials. The study also shows that the densities of the substrates and their mechanical damping coefficients have significant effects on the power output.

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Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:58 ,  Issue: 7 )