15 April 2016 Energy harvesting for dielectric elastomer sensing
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Abstract
Soft and stretchy dielectric elastomer (DE) sensors can measure large strains on robotic devices and people. DE strain measurement requires electric energy to run the sensors. Energy is also required for information processing and telemetering of data to phone or computer. Batteries are expensive and recharging is inconvenient. One solution is to harvest energy from the strains that the sensor is exposed to. For this to work the harvester must also be wearable, soft, unobtrusive and profitable from the energy perspective; with more energy harvested than used for strain measurement. A promising way forward is to use the DE sensor as its own energy harvester. Our study indicates that it is feasible for a basic DE sensor to provide its own power to drive its own sensing signal. However telemetry and computation that are additional to this will require substantially more power than the sensing circuit. A strategy would involve keeping the number of Bluetooth data chirps low during the entire period of energy harvesting and to limit transmission to a fraction of the total time spent harvesting energy. There is much still to do to balance the energy budget. This will be a challenge but when we succeed it will open the door to autonomous DE multi-sensor systems without the requirement for battery recharge.
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Iain A. Anderson, Patrin Illenberger, Ben M. O'Brien, "Energy harvesting for dielectric elastomer sensing", Proc. SPIE 9798, Electroactive Polymer Actuators and Devices (EAPAD) 2016, 97980U (15 April 2016); doi: 10.1117/12.2219524; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2219524
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