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Energy harvesting

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We develop power micro-generators, i.e. energy harvesters, in MEMS (MicroElectroMechanical-Systems) technology devoted to convert the mechanical energy scattered in the environment in the form of vibrations (e.g. domestic and industrial appliances, busy streets, car engines, HVAC – Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning – systems, etc.) into electrical energy. The micro converters exploit a suspended proof mass (i.e. resonator) to sense vibrations and a suitable electromechanical coupling mechanism to accumulate electric charges induced by the mass oscillation. More in detail, we realize energy harvesters based on electrostatic (i.e. capacitive) coupling in the FBK in-house surface micromachining (MEMS/RF-MEMS) technology, and we are developing a bulk micromachining fabrication process for the manufacturing of power micro-generators based on the piezoelectric conversion method. In all the mentioned cases, we aim to the realization of very high-performance power generators (up to the µW range with device volume of about 10 mm3). To do so, we rely on the design of mechanical resonators that exhibit multiple resonant frequencies in the vibration frequency range of interest (from 200-300 Hz up to 4-5 kHz), in such a way to extend the energy conversion capabilities with respect to classical cantilever-based harvesters. The final exploitation of MEMS-based power micro-generators is the supply of WSN (Wireless Sensor Network) nodes, vision devices and, more in general, ultra-low power wireless systems for diverse sensors and actuators applications.