Electrical characterization of a buckling thermal energy harvester
This paper presents the electrical characterizations of a novel concept for thermal energy harvesting at micro scale. The devices presented here are based on a two-step transduction combining thermo-mechanical and piezoelectric conversion. The piezoelectric layer is directly integrated into a buckling bilayer plate made of aluminium and aluminium nitride. For the first time, we have characterized the structures electrically and we have investigated their output power during the buckling. Firstly, we have used an insulating tip to make the plate buckle in order to have an estimation of the output power due to piezoelectric contribution only, and to eliminate any pyroelectric contribution that might be present during the thermal actuation. Then, we heated up the structure and we collected the output signal with an instrumentation amplifier in order to measure the voltage generated during the buckling. The output power during the mechanical and the thermal buckling is compared in the paper.