Ihor Sobianin, Sotiria D. Psoma, Antonios Tourlidakis

A 3D-Printed Piezoelectric Microdevice for Human Energy Harvesting for Wearable Biosensors

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Control and Systems Engineering

The human body is a source of multiple types of energy, such as mechanical, thermal and biochemical, which can be scavenged through appropriate technological means. Mechanical vibrations originating from contraction and expansion of the radial artery represent a reliable source of displacement to be picked up and exploited by a harvester. The continuous monitoring of physiological biomarkers is an essential part of the timely and accurate diagnosis of a disease with subsequent medical treatment, and wearable biosensors are increasingly utilized for biomedical data acquisition of important biomarkers. However, they rely on batteries and their replacement introduces a discontinuity in measured signals, which could be critical for the patients and also causes discomfort. In the present work, the research into a novel 3D-printed wearable energy harvesting platform for scavenging energy from arterial pulsations via a piezoelectric material is described. An elastic thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) film, which forms an air chamber between the skin and the piezoelectric disc electrode, was introduced to provide better adsorption to the skin, prevent damage to the piezoelectric disc and electrically isolate components in the platform from the human body. Computational fluid dynamics in the framework of COMSOL Multiphysics 6.1 software was employed to perform a series of coupled time-varying simulations of the interaction among a number of associated physical phenomena. The mathematical model of the harvester was investigated computationally, and quantification of the output energy and power parameters was used for comparisons. A prototype wearable platform enclosure was designed and manufactured using fused filament fabrication (FFF). The influence of the piezoelectric disc material and its diameter on the electrical output were studied and various geometrical parameters of the enclosure and the TPU film were optimized based on theoretical and empirical data. Physiological data, such as interdependency between the harvester skin fit and voltage output, were obtained.

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