In this paper, we report a miniature thermal energy harvester with a novel magnetic-piezoelectric design. The harvester consists of a soft magnetic Gd cantilever beam, a piezoelectric lead zirconate titanate sheet, an NdFeB hard magnet, silicon clamps, and a silicon frame. In this design, the harvester is driven by a temperature difference between a cold side and room temperature ambient air, unlike other magnetic-piezoelectric thermal energy harvesters that are driven by a temperature difference between a cold side and a hot side or between two hot sides. Experimental results show that with a temperature difference of 20 °C (cold side: 6.7 °C, hot side: 26.7 °C), the harvester produces a maximum peak-to-peak voltage of 37 mV and a root mean square voltage of 1.98 mV. The estimated maximum instantaneous power density and average power density is 21.7 nW/cm3 and 62.9 pW/cm3, respectively. Moreover, the total volume of our harvester (length × width × height: 6 3 3.5 × 3 mm) is 217 times lower than that of previous experimental harvesters and 38 times smaller than that of previous theoretical-modeled harvesters. Therefore, our harvester is the smallest machined magnetic-piezoelectric thermal energy harvester designed to date. These features enable our harvester to be more easily implemented and integrated with micro wireless sensors and thereby increase more self-powered wireless-sensing applications.
- energy harvester
- power generator