The University of Southampton

Energy harvesting research to investigate new thermoelectric micro-generators for IoT

Published: 13 May 2020
Dr Ruomeng Huang and the proposed thermoelectric micro-generator

ECS lecturer Dr Ruomeng Huang is investigating new micro-thermoelectric generator, enabling more efficient self-powered IoT devices and sensing systems.

With the thriving development of low power IoT devices, there is a growing demand for micro-sources of energy that can deliver power in the order of micro-Watts. Micro-scale energy harvesting technologies convert sustainable energy from the environment into electricity, serving as an ideal solution for realizing a true energy autonomous IoT and sensing system.

The new project, funded by the UK eFutures network, will address the key challenge of improving the material efficiency, which is determined by the thermoelectric properties of the material. “Our proposed project offers a great opportunity to significantly improve the thermoelectric properties of silicon nanowires through controlling the dimension, doping concentration and roughness of the nanowires.” Ruomeng says.

The eFutures network is an EPSRC-funded network representing the UK electronics research community. The funding was awarded as part of the eFutures network’s early career researcher (ECR) sandpit, which aimed to support UK ECRs working in the electronics sector and facilitate new interdisciplinary collaborations. Ruomeng met his collaborator, Dr Krishna Nama Manjunatha from De Montfort University, for the first time at the eFutures ECR sandpit event in January 2020.

“Krishna and I are both very excited about this new collaboration,” Ruomeng says. “The funding will provide us with resources to establish proof-of concept results which will then serve as a stepping stone for a larger grant application. Our aim is to develop highly efficient, eco-friendly, scalable and industrially compatible silicon nanowire based thermoelectric micro-generators that can produce sustainable power supper to IoT systems and wireless sensor networks.”

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