Nano/micro-electro-mechanical-system self-powered sensors for infrastructure safety monitoring

Much of the UK’s existing infrastructure is old and no longer safe. In its State of the Nation Infrastructure 2014 report, the Institution of Civil Engineers stated that none of the sectors analysed were ‘fit for the future’, and only one sector was ‘adequate for now’. Existing infrastructure is challenged by the need to increase load and usage – whether the number of passengers carried, the number of vehicles, or the volume of water used – and by the requirement to maintain the existing infrastructure while operating at current capacity. To ensure structural integrity and operational safety as infrastructure ages and deteriorates, long-life and dynamic structural health monitoring systems must be developed to detect infrastructure strain and to provide clear warning signs when the infrastructure is in danger. This project leverages a new concept developed for energy harvesting from ambient vibrations based on the principle of parametric resonance, which demonstrated nearly an order-of-magnitude enhancement in harvested power density relative to state-of-the-art technology over a wider operational frequency band relative to ordinary resonance. This project will co-integrate mechanisms for harvesting energy from ambient vibrations with NEMS/MEMS sensors fabricated on thin film piezoelectric on Silicon and from a wireless sensor network that enables system-level integration to realize dynamic infrastructure sensing for industrial applications (supported by leading industrial partners in the field). Packaging technologies will also be developed to enable harsh environment applications.

Ping Zhong
Ping Zhong

Dr Ping Zhong in the Central South University in China will be a formal international collaborator in this project and to accommodate the student funded by Lloyd's Register Foundation to visit China for six months, allowing them to utilize the China research lab and facility.

Project at other locations