Optimal power, power limit and damping of vibration based piezoelectric power harvesters

Yabin Liao, Henry Sodano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Power harvesting describes the process of acquiring the ambient energy surrounding a system and converting it into usable electrical energy. Much of the work over the past two decades has focused on the conversion of ambient vibration energy sources using piezoelectric, electromagnetic and electrostatic transduction. Attempts were made to obtain a general model that could be applied to any transduction mechanism. Of the most interest is an electromagnetic generator model that was used by many researchers to model piezoelectric power harvesters. Two major results from the model are the power limit expression and the equal relationship between the electrically induced damping and the mechanical damping to reach the power limit. However, piezoelectric power harvesters cannot be accurately modeled by this electromagnetic model due to the essential difference in physics. There have also been attempts to obtain the power limit expression based on piezoelectric relationships, but they either neglect the piezoelectric backward coupling to the structure, or assume the power limit occurs at the resonance of the system. This paper obtains the power limit expression based on the piezoelectric coupled equations without those assumptions. In addition, the relationship between the electrically induced damping and mechanical damping at the power limit is studied. Furthermore, a closed-form criterion is derived and proposed to define strongly and weakly coupling power harvesters, whose differences in power characteristics are explained through analytical and numerical analysis. While most of the discussion is focused on linear power harvesters connected to a resistive circuit, the aim of this paper is to provide a comprehensive and deep understanding of this simple configuration, answers to important questions, and a starting point to develop a more general theory on power harvesters because similar system characteristics are observed in power harvesters with more complexities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number075057
JournalSmart Materials and Structures
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jun 22 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Signal Processing
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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