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[en] Highlights: • A novel energy conversion method based on hydrogel material is proposed. • The design can effectively scavenge vibration energy with a superwide bandwidth. • High power generation performance and high working reliability are achieved. • The proposed design has large tolerance of the tilt angle during installation. • A visualized self-powered force sensor system is realized and demonstrated. - Abstract: In this paper, a novel energy conversion method based on hydrogel material for self-powered sensor system applications is proposed, which can harvest energy from environment vibrations and supply power to sensors without any external power source. In this approach, hemispherical hydrogel arrays are positioned between two parallel-arranged conductive plates. The deformation of hydrogel arrays caused by ambient vibrations will result in non-equilibrium charge distribution in the conductive plates. The charge redistribution leads to electrons transfer, thereby converting mechanical vibration energy into electricity. Based on this energy conversion principle, a hydrogel-based energy harvester is fabricated and experimentally characterized. The fabricated device exhibits a superwide working bandwidth (0–80 Hz) and high reliability in power generation. Moreover, favorable adaptability of the tilt angle during installation is achieved. In the feasibility experiment, an LCD screen is operated to verify the potential of the hydrogel-based energy conversion method to self-powered sensor applications under vibration environment. Finally, a visualized self-powered force sensor is also demonstrated with the fabricated hydrogel-based energy harvester, which proves its great potential in various application fields.
[en] This paper reports fabrication and characterization of a pressure sensor using a pitch-based carbon fiber. Pitch-based carbon fibers have been shown to exhibit the piezoresistive effect, in which the electric resistance of the carbon fiber changes under mechanical deformation. The main structure of pressure sensors was built by performing backside etching on a SOI wafer and creating a suspended square membrane on the front side. An AC electric field which causes dielectrophoresis was used for the alignment and deposition of a carbon fiber across the microscale gap between two electrodes on the membrane. The fabricated pressure sensors were tested by applying static pressure to the membrane and measuring the resistance change of the carbon fiber. The resistance change of carbon fibers clearly shows linear response to the applied pressure and the calculated sensitivities of pressure sensors are 0.25∼0.35 and 61.8 Ω/kΩ·bar for thicker and thinner membrane, respectively. All these observations demonstrated the possibilities of carbon fiber-based pressure sensors
[en] The development of high-performance miniaturized electrochemical energy storage systems is one of the important technological challenges for innovative electronic gadgets. Flexible microelectromechanical systems-based supercapacitors are considered one of the most aggressive on-chip power sources for advanced integrated electronics. Achieving high power efficiency with excellent flexibility and transparency for the micro-supercapacitors is a major challenge nowadays. Generally, these characteristics of micro-supercapacitors are dependent on the fabrication methods, electrical, mechanical and electrochemical properties of the microelectrode materials, current collectors and electrolytes. In the present review, we have summarized the various strategies used in materials engineering to develop flexible micro-supercapacitors and their electrochemical performance characteristics. Meanwhile, this review presents the latest developments in the design, fabrication and application of flexible micro-supercapacitors. (topical review)
[en] We report the fabrication and characterization of a porous nano-patterned SU-8 high aspect ratio pillar array as a transparent super-hydrophobic thin film. A 250 µm thick SU-8 layer was backside exposed through a glass substrate to form an array of high aspect ratio tapered pillars with angles in the range of 3°–5°. The SU-8 pillar array was plasma treated to form nano-porous surfaces, and then subsequently coated with fluorocarbon (FC) or Parylene-C film. Static contact angles and optical transmittance of various surface conditions such as with and without plasma treatment, Parylene-C versus FC, were tested and results were compared. Among various surface treated SU-8 pillar arrays, the plasma-treated nano-porous FC-coated SU-8 pillar array showed the highest static contact angle of 161°. It was found that the optical transmittance at around 530 nm for the nano-porous FC-coated SU-8 pillar array was approximately 65%, while the bare SU-8 film was approximately 95%. These nano-patterned transparent polymer films could be used in various water-repellent applications. (paper)
[en] In this study, we introduce a selective thermochemical nano-patterning method of graphene on insulating substrates. A tiny heater formed at the end of an atomic force microscope (AFM) cantilever is optimized by a finite element method. The cantilever device is fabricated using conventional micromachining processes. After preliminary tests of the cantilever device, nano-patterning experiments are conducted with various conducting and insulating samples. The results indicate that faster scanning speed and higher contact force are desirable to reduce the sizes of nano-patterns. With the experimental condition of 1 μm/s and 24 mW, the heated AFM tip generates a graphene oxide layer of 3.6 nm height and 363 nm width, on a 300 nm thick SiO2 layer, with a tip contact force of 100 nN
[en] This paper presents monolithically fabricated horizontal thermal actuators integrated with piezoresistive sensors for in situ displacement sensing. The great advantage of a hybrid system is the use of closed feedback control for improving the transient response of a thermal actuator and positioning accuracy. It consists of two 'hot arms' made of doped silicon for Joule heating-induced thermal expansion when a current flow passes through them. The piezoresistor is embedded in the base of the 'cold arm' flexure for monitoring the tip deflection and for performance characterization. This 'cold arm' is not a part of the electrical circuit, which further improves the heat power efficiency and the measurement accuracy. Optimization is achieved mainly through modification of the geometry as well as the fabrication process. The fabricated micro-electro-thermal actuator with an integrated sensor is intended for use as a scanning cantilever in atomic force microscope or as a sample holder to drive the moving object through arrays configuration.
[en] This paper describes a novel micro xy-stage, driven by double-hot arm horizontal thermal micro-actuators integrated with a piezoresistive sensor (PS) for low-voltage operation and precise control. This micro xy-stage structure is linked with chevron beams and optimized to amplify the displacement generated by the micro-actuators that provide a pull force to the movable platform. The PS employed for in situ displacement detection and feedback control is fabricated at the base of a cold arm, which minimizes the influence of temperature change induced by electro-thermal heating. The micro xy-stage structure is defined through the use of a simple micromachining process, released by backside wet etching with a special tool. For an input power of approximately 44 mW, each chevron actuator provides about 16 µm and the total displacement of the platform is close to 32 µm. The sensitivity of the PS is better than 1 mV µm"−"1, obtained from the amplified voltage output of the Wheatstone bridge circuit. The potential applications of the proposed micro xy-stage lie in micro- or nano-manipulation, as well as the positioning of ultra-small objects in nanotechnology. (paper)
[en] In this study, an improvement in energy conversion efficiency has been reported, which is realized by using a double-clamped piezoelectric beam, based on uniaxial stretching strain. The buckling mechanism is applied to maximize axial stress in the double-clamped beam. The voltage generated by using the double-clamped piezoelectric beam is higher than that generated by using other conventional structures, such as bending cantilevers coated/sandwiched with piezoelectric film, which is proven both theoretically and experimentally. The power generation efficiency is enhanced by further optimizing the double-clamped structure. The optimized high-efficiency energy harvester utilizing double-clamped piezoelectric beams generates a peak output power of 80 μW, under an acceleration of 0.1g
[en] This paper describes a self-adjustable four-point probe (S4PP) system with a square configuration. The S4PP system consists of 3D polymer coil springs for the independent operation of each tungsten (W) probe, microfluidic channels filled with a nontoxic liquid metal, and a LabView-based control system. The 3D coil springs made by PMMA are fabricated with a 3D printer and are positioned in a small container filled with the non-toxic liquid metal. This unique configuration allows independent self-adjustment of the probe heights for precise measurements of the electrical properties of both flexible and large-step-height microsamples. The feasibility of the fabricated S4PP system is evaluated by measuring the specific resistance of Cr and Au thin films deposited on silicon wafers. The system is then employed to evaluate the electrical properties of a Au thin film deposited onto a flexible and easily breakable silicon diaphragm (spring constant: ∼3.6 × 10"−"5 N/m). The resistance of the Cr thin films (thickness: 450 nm) with step heights of 60 and 90 μm is also successfully characterized. These experimental results indicate that the proposed S4PP system can be applied to common metals and semiconductors as well as flexible and large-step-height samples.
[en] In this work, we have synthesized the ZnCo2O4 electrode by a facial one-step hydrothermal method on a carbon cloth for the supercapacitor application. The structural and phase purity of the prepared electrode material was confirmed by X-ray diffraction (XRD) technique. The surface morphology and elemental stoichiometry were studied using field emission scanning electron microscopy (FE-SEM). The FE-SEM micrograph illustrates that the ZnCo2O4 material is composed of microstrips with a ∼0.5 μm width and length in micron uniformly covered the carbon cloth surface. The ZnCo2O4 electrode material further investigated for electrochemical analyses. The cyclic voltammetry results showed that the ZnCo2O4 microstrips electrode exhibited the highest specific capacitance of 1084 F/g at 2 mV/s scan rate. Remarkably, a maximum energy density of 12.5 Wh/kg was attained at a current density of 2 mA/cm2 with the power density of 3.6 kW/kg for the ZnCo2O4 microstrips electrode. Furthermore, the 96.2 % capacitive retention is obtained at a higher scan rate of 100 mV/s after 1000 CV cycles, indicating excellent cycling stability of the ZnCo2O4 microstrips electrode. The frequency-dependent rate capability and an ideal capacitive behaviour of the ZnCo2O4 microstrips electrode were analyzed using impedance analyses; a representing the ion diffusion structure of the material. These results show that the ZnCo2O4 microstrips electrode could be a promising material for supercapacitor application. (paper)