Potentially Transformative Energy Harvesting Device

Ben Cohen
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Some positive news from the green tech world: Fast Company reports on the new 'Piezoelectric' device that has the potential to radically reduce the energy costs of wireless sensors (devices that measure things like environmental pollution, bridge movement, and factory machinery):

There are already wireless sensors that power themselves using low-frequency vibrations--the kind created by swaying bridges or foot traffic--but they haven't been all that powerful in the past. But MIT's new energy-harvesting microelectromechanical system (MEMS) translates even the tiniest movements into relatively enormous amounts of power.

The piezoelectric device consists of a bridge-like structure anchored to a microchip on both ends. A layer of piezeoelectric material (i.e quartz or crystal) sit on top of the bridge, and a weight is placed in the middle of it. Unlike other piezeoelectric energy-harvesting devices, this one can respond to a wide range of vibrational frequencies--meaning there are more opportunities to produce power. The MIT researchers estimate that the device, which could cost under $1, can produce 100 times the power of other similarly-sized piezoelectric devices.

The evolution of such devices are incredibly important to the ongoing battle against rising energy demands. As more and more people demand higher standards of living, the need to advance technology becomes incredibly vital.

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