Mechanical Engineering Faculty Research


On the Role of Nonlinearities in Vibratory Energy Harvesting: A Critical Review and Discussion

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 3-2-2014


The last two decades have witnessed several advances in microfabrication technologies and electronics, leading to the development of small, low-power devices for wireless sensing, data transmission, actuation, and medical implants. Unfortunately, the actual implementation of such devices in their respective environment has been hindered by the lack of scalable energy sources that are necessary to power and maintain them. Batteries, which remain the most commonly used power sources, have not kept pace with the demands of these devices, especially in terms of energy density. In light of this challenge, the concept of vibratory energy harvesting has flourished in recent years as a possible alternative to provide a continuous power supply. While linear vibratory energy harvesters have received the majority of the literature's attention, a significant body of the current research activity is focused on the concept of purposeful inclusion of nonlinearities for broadband transduction. When compared to their linear resonant counterparts, nonlinear energy harvesters have a wider steady-state frequency bandwidth, leading to a common belief that they can be utilized to improve performance in ambient environments. Through a review of the open literature, this paper highlights the role of nonlinearities in the transduction of energy harvesters under different types of excitations and investigates the conditions, in terms of excitation nature and potential shape, under which such nonlinearities can be beneficial for energy harvesting.

Publication Title

Applied mechanics Reviews





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