The Michigan Engineer News Center

Microsystems research for energy scavenging and power generation

The research has applications in health care, environmental monitoring, security, energy conservation and exploration, and more.| Short Read
EnlargeFabricated micro thermoelectric generator
IMAGE:  Fabricated micro thermoelectric generator

A paper on microsystems for energy scavenging and power generation from environmental sources was presented by a group of students and faculty from the University of Michigan and Michigan Technological University at the 2008 Int. Conference on Commercialization of Micro and Nano Systems (COMS 2008), which was held in Puerto Vallarta in Sept. 2008, and won the Best Paper/Presentation Award. The paper is entitled “Micro Energy Scavengers,” and authors are Edward Romero, Prof. Michael Neuman, and Prof. Robert Warrington from Michigan Tech, and Tzeno Galchev, Ethem Aktakka, Niloufar Ghafouri, Hanseup Kim, and Prof. Khalil Najafi from Michigan.

Micropower environmental energy harvesting generators offer an alternative source of energy for many emerging applications of miniature instruments used in health care, environmental monitoring, security, energy conservation and exploration, and a myriad of consumer electronic devices. Harvesting energy from various environmental sources has been an area of research focus at the NSF ERC on Wireless Integrated Micro Systems Engineering Research Center (WIMS). Micro energy harvesters based on piezoelectric, electromagnetic, thermoelectric techniques from both vibration and heat sources are being developed. This research and the collaboration between Michigan and Michigan Tech is supported by the WIMS Center.

COMS is an international conference on micro- and nanotechnology commercialization and education. It was created for those who bring emerging small technologies from concept to the marketplace. COMS is the signature event for MANCEF, the Micro and Nanotechnology Commercialization Education Foundation.

Additional Information:

NSF ERC on Wireless Integrated Microsystems (

Paper Citation:
E. Romero, T. Galchev, E. Aktakka, N. Ghafouri, H. Kim, M. Neuman, K. Najafi, and R. Warrington, “Micro Energy Scavengers,” Electronic Proceedings of the 2008 Int. Conference on Commercialization of Micro and Nano Systems (COMS 2008), Puerto Vallarta, Sept. 2008, Best Paper/Presentation Award.

Fabricated micro thermoelectric generator
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The electrons absorb laser light and set up “momentum combs” (the hills) spanning the energy valleys within the material (the red line). When the electrons have an energy allowed by the quantum mechanical structure of the material—and also touch the edge of the valley—they emit light. This is why some teeth of the combs are bright and some are dark. By measuring the emitted light and precisely locating its source, the research mapped out the energy valleys in a 2D crystal of tungsten diselenide. Credit: Markus Borsch, Quantum Science Theory Lab, University of Michigan.

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