Out in the wilds or anywhere off the grid, sophisticated instruments small enough to fit in a shirt pocket will one day scavenge power from sunlight, body heat, or other sources to monitor water quality or bridge safety, enabling analysis in the field rather than bringing samples and data back to the lab.
Researchers at the University of Waterloo in Ontario are using optics and photonics in their quest to “bring the lab to the sample,” said lead researcher Vassili Karanassios of the Department of Chemistry and of the university’s Institute for Nanotechnology (WIN) A major aspect of his team’s solution, reported in a conference and publication by SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, is scavenging energy from various sources to power instruments at the sample site.
While energy harvesting utilizes sources such as wind power, energy scavenging involves re-using discarded energy, such as the electric light that runs a calculator, Karanassios said.
The team is incorporating wake-up systems in the devices to support energy autonomy, the ability to be powered as needed without an external source, without losing selectivity, the ability to gather and accurately analyze relevant data.
An important feature of his lab’s approach is the integration of several features of full-scale laboratory instruments.
“People have experimented with sensors and with lab-on-a-chip devices for a long time,” Karanassios said. “But taking an entire instrument to the field in a hand-held device is new. Not many research groups have the expertise to integrate it all, to go from the sensor level to the micro-instrument level.”
The team is also working to reduce the power required for miniature instruments that perform optical emission spectrometry — using light to generate the spectral patterns that are intrinsically unique to materials — with very small samples. The resulting spectral “signature” is used to identify what is in the sample, for example, in on-site monitoring of water quality.
Among power source optics, sunlight is one obvious answer, Karanassios said, but limited by clouds and brief daylight in some regions. Additional possible sources and applications for energy scavenging are:
- Plugging in to human body heat, unobtrusively scavenging energy in the form of otherwise-wasted heat generated by a person while walking, to power instruments for testing water quality or wearable biomedical monitors.
- Harnessing animal body heat, to recharge implanted tracking devices. “When tagging and tracking animals in the wild, you do not want to have to catch the same animal one more time just to replace the battery that powers its sensors,” Karanassios noted.
- Charging up a bridge sensor using mechanical energy generated in a spring-loaded device in the road, activated by vehicles crossing the bridge.
Because smaller sensors and instruments require less power, Karanassios’ lab is working toward “shirt-pocket size” micro-instruments that eventually will deliver performance comparable to full-size lab versions.
They have experimented with a device the size of sugar cube that can be used along with a portable spectrometer for rapid screening of environmental contaminants, using spectral lines generated by wavelengths in the visible light and ultraviolet regions.
The Latest Bing News on:
Autonomous energy-scavenging micro devices
- It’s Official! The Raspberry Pi Is Now 10!on August 1, 2022 at 5:00 pm
In any given field there are epoch-defining moments, those events after which nothing was quite the same as it had been before. It’s been a decade since the launch of the first Raspberry Pi ...
- What’s Next for Autonomous Driving? Mouser’s Empowering Innovation Together Explores AI-Based Driver Monitoringon July 27, 2022 at 8:50 am
The fourth installment of Mouser's 2022 Empowering Innovation Together program explores driver monitoring systems for occupant presence and condition.
- HP Color LaserJet 2600n Teardownon July 11, 2022 at 5:01 pm
In the ongoing quest to find parts for new projects by scavenging old devices, the curiously sane and benevolent team at Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories took apart an HP Color LaserJet 2600n.
The Latest Google Headlines on:
Autonomous energy-scavenging micro devices
The Latest Bing News on:
- Sen. Marty Klyne: Saskatchewan needs to cooperate with rest of Canada on energy, economic futureon August 5, 2022 at 9:32 am
Cooperation is key to Saskatchewan and Canada’s shared success on energy, the environment and economic reconciliation, writes Marty Klyne. In late June, The New York Times reported that heat waves ...
- Energy sector needs to innovate competitivelyon August 3, 2022 at 6:25 pm
The South Asian subcontinent is facing a massive energy crisis, which has placed regional governments on edge, compelled widespread switching to extremely polluting fuels like coal and fuel oil, and ...
- POSIGEN BRINGS ROOFTOP SOLAR AND ENERGY EFFICIENCY TO THE BAY STATEon August 2, 2022 at 6:36 am
PosiGen, the nation's leading provider of renewable energy and energy efficiency solutions for low-to-moderate (LMI) income homeowners is excited to announce our expansion into Massachusetts. The Bay ...
- LOOK: In energy-starved South Africa, whites-only town Orania basks in solar poweron July 29, 2022 at 6:35 am
In a country struggling to provide basic services, the small settlement of 2 500 people is the only town nationwide close to reaching energy supply autonomy and freeing itself from the failing ...
- AI, Autonomy, and the Risk of Nuclear Waron July 29, 2022 at 12:50 am
Will emerging technologies like AI increase the risk of nuclear war? We are in an era of rapid disruptive technological change, especially in AI.
- How Summerside — and Prince Edward Island — are leading the energy revolution in Canadaon July 28, 2022 at 4:00 am
From wind farms to giant solar parks, big things are happening in Summerside, PEI, a city on the East Coast of Canada with a can-do attitude ...
- In Energy-starved South Africa, Whites-only Town Basks In Solar Poweron July 28, 2022 at 3:53 am
At the end of a gravel track outside the Afrikaner town of Orania, a diamond mesh gate opens onto hundreds of photovoltaic panels mounted in rows. In energy-starved South Africa, the small settlement ...
- Is India Muscling Its Strategic Autonomy By Engaging Both The East And The West?on July 27, 2022 at 1:30 am
As India rises and its global footprint increases, its foreign policy has to keep pace. There is international ...
- Sesame Solar is selling mobile disaster relief units powered entirely by clean energyon July 26, 2022 at 9:37 am
Sesame sells the systems for anywhere from $100,000 to $300,000, or more for larger installations like a full medical clinic.
- Autonomy to Scale Electric Vehicle Subscriptions Nationally; AutoNation to be Dealer of Record and Provide Serviceson July 26, 2022 at 7:02 am
The partnership will support Autonomy’s electric vehicle product expansion from the Tesla Model 3 into several automaker brands as well as its geographic expansion across the Un ...