The research is being conducted by Bill Kuhn, professor of electrical and computer engineering at KSU and Xiaohu Zhang, a master’s student in electrical engineering. The two have demonstrated their design by constructing a small board on which a radio is powered by solar cells from inexpensive calculators. The board also includes a series of capacitors that capture and store light energy to power the radio without a battery. The scientists noted that although the working prototype is powered solely by light energy, energy-harvesting radios could, in fact, be powered by a variety of means, including electrochemical, mechanical, or thermal energy.
The technology could significantly ease the monitoring of the safeness of bridges as well as other structures, as it would eliminate cases when sensors that report such information as stress, temperature, and pressure on bridges cease to transmit the data due to an abrupt loss of battery power. Ron Reedy, Peregrine’s chief technical officer, said that fulfilling this vision of autonomous sensors requires highly integrated, low power radio chips – exactly the kind that KSU and Peregrine have demonstrated to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory on Peregrine’s trademarked UltraCMOS silicon-on-sapphire technology.
Kuhn and Zhang will present research on the radio communication aspects of the project at the Radio and Wireless Symposium in January 2009.
Be sure to check out TFOT’s recent article about the “Light for Life” flashlight, which unlike regular flashlights, offers a rechargeable battery that can be recharged in a minimal amount of time based on new ultracapacitor technology. You are also welcome to look up our coverage of Intel’s new wireless power technology called “Wireless Energy Resonant Link” (WREL), which according to the company, achieves significantly improved efficiency over previous technology.