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Piezoelectric nanogenerators: Power solutions for autonomous devices

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A Winton teatime discussion hosted by Dr Sohini Kar-Narayan, Lecturer at the Materials Department, on energy harvesting. There will be a short presentation followed by an informal discussion.

Abstract:Harvesting energy from ambient sources in our environment has generated tremendous interest as it offers a fundamental energy solution for small-power applications including, but not limited to, ubiquitous wireless sensor nodes, portable, flexible and wearable electronics, biomedical implants and structural/environmental monitoring devices. As an example, consider that the number of smart devices linking everyday objects via the internet is estimated to grow to 50 billion by the year 2020. Most of these “Internet of Things” (IoT) devices will be extraordinarily small and in many cases embedded, and will wirelessly provide useful data that will make our lives easier, better and more energy-efficient. The only sustainable way to power them is using ambient energy harvesting that lasts through the product lifetime. In this context, energy harvesting from ambient vibrations is particularly attractive, as these are ever-present and easily accessible, originating from sources such as moving parts of machines, fluid flow and even body movements. Nanoscale piezoelectric energy harvesters, or nanogenerators, are capable of converting ambient vibrations that are typically small into electrical energy, thus paving the way for the realization of the next generation of self-powered devices, with profound implications in far-reaching areas such as smart-city planning, health, biomedicine, robotics, environmental and structural monitoring, resource management and sustainable development.

Bio:Sohini Kar-Narayan is a University Lecturer in the Department of Materials Science leading a research group with interests in materials for energy harvesting and sensors. She was awarded an ERC Starting Grant in 2014 and a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship in 2011.

This talk is part of the Winton Discussions series.

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