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MEMS Technologies for Energy Harvesting and Sensing
Varghese, Ronnie Paul
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MEMS devices are finding application in diverse fields that include energy harvesting, microelectronics and sensors. In energy harvesting, MEMS scale devices are employed due to its efficiencies of scale. The miniaturization of energy harvesters permit them to be integrated as the power supply for sensors often in the same package and also extends their use to remote and extreme ambient applications. Unlike inductive harvesting, piezoelectric and magnetoelectric devices lend easily to MEMS scaling. The processing of such Piezo-MEMS devices often requires special fabrication, characterization and testing techniques. Our research work has focused on the development of the various technologies for a) the better characterization of the constituent materials that make up these devices, b) the conceptualization and structural design of unique MEMS energy harvesters and finally c) the development of the unit operations (many novel) for fabrication and the mechanical and electrical testing of these devices. In this research work, we have pioneered some new approaches to the characterization of thin films utilized in Piezo-MEMS devices: (1) Temperature-Time Transformation (TTT) diagrams are used to document texture evolution during thermal treatment of ceramics. Multinomial and multivariate regression techniques were utilized to create the predictor models for TTT data of Pb(Zr0.60Ti0.40 O3) sol-gel thin films. (2) We correlated the composition (measured using Energy Dispersive X-ray analysis (EDX) and Electron Probe Micro Analysis (EPMA)) of Pb(Zr0.52Ti0.48 O3) RF sputtered thin films to its optical dispersion properties measured using Variable Angle Spectroscopic Ellipsometry (VASE). Wemple-DiDomenico, Jackson-Amer, Tauc and Urbach optical dispersion factors and Lorentz Lorenz polarizability relationships were combined to realize a model for predicting the elemental content of any thin film system. (3) We developed in house capability for strain analysis of magnetostrictive thin films using laser Doppler Vibrometry (LDV). We determined a methodology to convert the displacements measurements of AC magnetic field induced vibrations of thin film samples into magnetostriction values. (4) Finally, we report the novel use of a thermo-optic technique, Time Domain Thermoreflectance (TDTR) in the study of Pb(Zr,Ti)O3 (PZT) thin film texturing. Time Domain Thermoreflectance (TDTR) has been proved to be capable of measuring thermal properties of atomic layers and interfaces. Therefore, we utilized TDTR to analyze and model the heat transport at the nano scale and correlate with different PZT crystalline orientations. To harvest energy at the low frequency (<100Hz) of ambient vibrations, MEMS energy harvesters require special structures. Extensive research has led us to the development of Circular Zigzag structure that permits inertial mass free attainment of such low frequencies. In addition to Si micromachining, we have fabricated such structures using a new Micro water jet micromachining of thin piezo sheets, unimorphs and bimorphs. For low frequency magnetic energy harvesting, we also fabricated the first magnetoelectric macro fiber composite. This device also employs a novel low temperature metallic bonding technique to fuse the magnetostrictive layer to the piezoelectric layers. A special low viscosity epoxy enabled the joining of the flexible circuit to the magnetoelectric fibers. Lastly, we developed a nondimensional tunable Piezo harvester, called PiezoCap, which decouples the energy harvesting component of the device from the resonant vibration component. We do so by using magnets loaded on piezo harvester strips, thereby making them piezomagnetoelastic and vary the spacing between 2 magnet+piezoelectric pairs to eliminate dimensionality and permit active tunability of the harvester's resonant frequency.
- Doctoral Dissertations