Journal article

A low-cost UWB sensor node powered by a piezoelectric harvester or solar cells

We propose an autonomous battery-less wireless sensor node that combines on a single printed circuit board an ultra-wideband (UWB) transmitter and its printed antenna, together with a piezoelectric cantilever and a solar cell array to harvest vibrations and light energy, respectively. The co-design of the solar cell array with the printed UWB antenna allows a prototype size of only 85x35 mm2, i.e., less than 65% of a credit card size. Low-cost is achieved by using inexpensive FR4 dual-layer substrate, standard-ceramic capacitors, and low-cost harvesters. The vibrational energy scavenger is fabricated at the wafer scale based on commercially available bulk polycrystalline Lead Zirconate Titanate (PZT), and the solar cells are fabricated by depositing amorphous-Si on 0.5 mm thick glass substrate. The cold-startup time of the demonstrator is about 42 min under indoor-ambient light conditions, and about 34 min under 700 mg vibrations at a frequency of 100 Hz. Once started, the sensor requires only 12.6 µW to allow a transmission rate of one temperature sensor readout every 34 s, thanks to the UWB transmitter that consumes only 206 pJ per pulse and a custom protocol with a reduced overhead.


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