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 MEMS device generates power from body heat

This story is from the category Computing Power
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Date posted: 02/05/2010

In an attempt to develop a power source that is compact, environmentally friendly, and has an unlimited lifetime, a team of researchers from Singapore has fabricated an energy harvesting device that generates electricity from body heat or any environment where there is a temperature gradient. Their device, called a thermoelectric power generator, attaches to the body and generates a power output of a few microwatts, which could be useful for powering implanted medical devices and wireless sensors.

The researchers, Jin Xie and Hanhua Feng from Institute of Microelectronics, A*STAR, Singapore?s government Agency for Science, Technology and Research, along with Chengkuo Lee from the National University of Singapore, have published their study in a recent issue of the Journal of Microelectromechanical Systems.

The entire generator consists of a chip with a size of 1 x 1 cm2, which holds more than 30,000 thermocouples. The thermocouples, when arranged in groups called thermopiles, detect a temperature difference between the hot and cold junctions and produce a voltage. With a temperature difference of 5K, the device can generate a voltage of 16.7 volts and a power output of 1.3 microwatts. The researchers hope that future improvements to the device could increase the power output to several microwatts. By accumulating this energy over time, it could be used to prolong the battery life of electronic devices such as pressure sensors, and also recycle heat generated from the devices during operation. By powering the wearer?s medical implants, this technology could enable patients to avoid difficult, high-cost battery replacement methods.

See the full Story via external site: www.physorg.com



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