Energy management is a challenging issue. Accordingly, various energy harvesting technologies have gained attention including harvesting energy from ambient vibration sources using piezoelectric materials. Conventional piezoelectric energy harvesting transducer (PEHT) structures have effective piezoelectric constants that are lower than about 104 pC/N (resonant mode). These low piezoelectric constants lead to conventional PEHTs not being able to harvest electric power effectively. Further, for a specific vibration/motion source, it would be advantageous to maximize the mechanical energy captured from the vibration structure into the piezoelectric device and to convert a greater fraction of that mechanical energy into electrical energy more efficiently.

NASA Langley Research Center has developed a system to increase the effective piezoelectric constant and the mechanical energy input to energy harvesting transducers. This results in practical performance advantages including higher mechanical-electrical coupling and conversion efficiencies, and more efficient operation across a range of vibrational frequencies.

This system and method uses multistage force amplification of piezoelectric energy harvesting transducers (MFAPEHTs) to increase the effective piezoelectric constant to >106 pC/N and to increase the mechanical energy input to the device. The invention utilizes 33-mode PZT to permit maximum coupling between the input mechanical energy with the piezoelectric material, and multilayer construction of single crystal PMN-PT material to significantly amplify the voltage/charge generation and storage from the applied mechanical force.

NASA is actively seeking licensees to commercialize this technology. Please contact The Technology Gateway at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to initiate licensing discussions. Follow this link here  for more information.


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This article first appeared in the April, 2020 issue of Tech Briefs Magazine.

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