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Recent advances in energy harvesting have been intensified due to urgent needs of portable, wireless electronics with extensive life span. The idea of energy harvesting is applicable to sensors that are placed and operated on some entities for a long time, or embedded into structures or human bodies, in which it is troublesome or detrimental to replace the sensor module batteries. Such sensors are commonly called “self-powered sensors.” The energy harvester devices are capable of capturing environmental energy and supplanting the battery in a standalone module, or working along with the battery to extend substantially its life. Vibration is considered one of the most high power and efficient among other ambient energy sources, such as solar energy and temperature difference. Piezoelectric and electromagnetic devices are mostly used to convert vibration to ac electric power. For vibratory harvesting, a delicately designed power conditioning circuit is required to store as much as possible of the device-output power into a battery. The design for this power conditioning needs to be consistent with the electric characteristics of the device and battery to achieve maximum power transfer and efficiency. This study offers an overview on various power conditioning electronic circuits designed for vibratory harvester devices and their applications to self-powered sensors. Comparative comments are provided in terms of circuit topology differences, conversion efficiencies and applicability to a sensor module.
Date of Publication: Dec. 2011