The broader impact/commercial potential of this Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project will be to use novel energy harvesting techniques to benefit the expanding wearables market and improve the lives of patients who use prosthetics and orthotics. New integrated circuit technology enables vibration energy harvesting from a physically much smaller vibration harvester. These smaller harvesters enable multiple applications. For example, battery life in wearables to track heart rate and steps walked could be extended. Also, fabric-based vibration energy harvesting applications could be realized in military and first responder uniforms to power communication devices. Similarly, for commercial markets clothing-integrated sensors for digital health applications could be powered by vibration harvesting. Finally, first markets will be explored for vibration harvesting systems integrated in prosthetics or orthotics to improve the quality of life for patients. A sensor system in orthotics could detect medical complications in patients suffering from diabetic neuropathy. These new energy harvesting circuits could potentially also power sensors integrated into prosthetics that could identify structural and mechanical problems.
This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project develops a vibration energy interface circuit that allows cold start-up from record low voltages and low currents using novel CMOS (Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor) design techniques. These CMOS design techniques use only one vibration harvester input to charge large loads such as 100ÂµF capacitors without the use of a transformer or Schottky diodes. Lowering the minimum start-up voltage in a vibration harvesting interface circuit has been a significant area of circuit research in integrated circuit design over the last decade. The innovation proposed for this SBIR Phase I project uses a classic Cockcroft-Walton charge pump with large off-chip 100ÂµF capacitors. The charge pump's rectification is designed in CMOS to allow leakage-based signals to form and switch the charge pump's rectification from cold start-up. In this project there will be continued research into integrated circuit techniques and solutions to lower the minimum start-up voltage in a circuit interface to a vibration harvester.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.