Energy harvesting, or energy-scavenging technology, captures unused ambient energy—such as vibration, strain, light, temperature gradients and variations, gas flow energy, and liquid flow energy—and converts it into usable electrical energy. In spite of the advances made thus far, the batteries that power portable microelectronics and wireless devices provide only a finite amount of power. Energy harvesting is a perfect solution for the problem of finite battery power for various low-power applications: it provides sustained, cost-effective, and environmentally friendlier sources of power. In the recent past, unconventional methods for waste energy harvesting and scavenging were being explored to provide sustained power to these micro- and nano-devices. Efforts have been made to garner electric power from mechanical vibrations, light, spatial variations, and temporal temperature variations. Another potential source for low-power electronics is the waste thermal and mechanical energy of asphalt pavement, especially via pyroelectricity. However, to date, that potential has not been extensively explored (with the exception of the large-scale effort being made by Israel in paving kilometers of roads with a specially designed series of piezoelectric modules).
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