Semiconductor industry is shaped mainly by the current needs of Internet of Things (IoT). Since 2010, an unprecedented IoT market growth is observed. Today quantity of IoT nodes outnumbers x7 human population. Astonishingly, this IoT market growth could be faster but is blocked by lack of alternatives for battery/wire supply. Knowing that each electronic device has to be supplied to operate and taking into account huge quantity of IoT nodes their size, portability, work environment, installation spots etc. reliable battery maintenance is impossible, while wire supply is costly and difficult to modify. When we include also global challenges: (i) continually rising Energy consumption; (ii) growth of temperature and CO2 concentration in atmosphere; all innovations aimed at exploration of alternative Energy sources are playing strategic role. Our team is focused on investigation of novel waste Energy harvesting methods involving different input energy sources i.a. light, RF & THz waves, vibrations, heat. Despite that, Energy harvested from wastes is very minute it is sufficient to totally cover modern IoT node energetically needs (~100μJ/cycle).
Common property of waste Energy harvesters is small output power level. In order to increase this Energy a pulse-mode operational mode of thermoelectric generator was invented and characterized. This method allowed for x2,5 power boost comparing with conventional mode of operation.
Modern thermoelectricity uses mainly costly, toxic, harmful, complex and industrially incompatible materials – resulting in unpopularity on the market. The solution can be achieved using Silicon (Si) as thermoelectrics, but it has too high thermal conductivity (κ). Reduction of κ can be achieved by material engineering e.g. thin-film membranes and/or phononic crystals. One of activities of our group is construction of thin-film Si-based thermoelectric generator and micrometer thermal characterization platform for 2D materials.
Additionally an exploration of innovative harvesting techniques from omnipresent Energy sources are in scope of our interests. Such harvesters could generate Energy regardless their installation spot.