Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Electrical Engineering

Document Type

Dissertation

Abstract

The human body is an abundant source of energy in the form of heat and mechanical movement. The ability to harvest this energy can be useful for supplying low-consumption wearable and implantable devices. Thermoelectric materials are usually used to harvest human body heat for wearable devices; however, thermoelectric generators require temperature gradient across the device to perform appropriately. Since they need to attach to the heat source to absorb the heat, temperature equalization decreases their efficiencies. Moreover, the electrostatic energy harvester, working based on the variable capacitor structure, is the most compatible candidate for harvesting low-frequency-movement of the human body. Although it can provide a high output voltage and high-power density at a small scale, they require an initial start-up voltage source to charge the capacitor for initiating the conversion process. The current methods for initially charging the variable capacitor suffer from the complexity of the design and fabrication process.

In this research, a solution-processed photovoltaic structure was proposed to address the temperature equalization problem of the thermoelectric generators by harvesting infrared radiations emitted from the human body. However, normal photovoltaic devices have the bandgap limitation to absorb low energy photons radiated from the human body. In this structure, mid-gap states were intentionally introduced to the absorbing layer to activate the multi-step photon absorption process enabling electron promotion from the valence band to the conduction band. The fabricated device showed promising performance in harvesting low energy thermal radiations emitted from the human body.

Finally, in order to increase the generated power, a hybrid structure was proposed to harvest both mechanical and heat energy sources available in the human body. The device is designed to harvest both the thermal radiation of the human body based on the proposed solution-processed photovoltaic structure and the mechanical movement of the human body based on an electrostatic generator. The photovoltaic structure was used to charge the capacitor at the initial step of each conversion cycle. The simple fabrication process of the photovoltaic device can potentially address the problem associated with the charging method of the electrostatic generators. The simulation results showed that the combination of two methods can significantly increase the harvested energy.

Date

10-21-2018

Committee Chair

Mehraeen, Shahab

Available for download on Monday, October 21, 2019

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