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SBIR Phase I: Ultra Low Power Electrostatic Switch Relay for Vibration Energy Harvesting

Award Information
Agency: National Science Foundation
Branch: N/A
Contract: 1314996
Agency Tracking Number: 1314996
Amount: $149,992.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: EI
Solicitation Number: N/A
Solicitation Year: 2012
Award Year: 2013
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2013-07-01
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2014-03-31
Small Business Information
5407 Wild Horse Ct.
Louisville, KY 40229-1270
United States
DUNS: 061263985
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: Yes
Principal Investigator
 Ji-Tzuoh Lin
 (502) 554-5563
Business Contact
 Ji-Tzuoh Lin
Phone: (502) 554-5563
Research Institution

This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project proposes to develop an ultra-low-power electrostatic switch relay for the purpose of managing ultra-low-power energy harvesting. Normal power management for energy harvesting, which involves controlling the release and storage of the collected energy, has been accomplished with CMOS-based switches or microcontrollers. Unfortunately, silicon based controllers consume at least a few microwatts of energy. Thus, in a scenario in which the available power is less than that required to run the energy-managing switch or microcontroller, no energy will be harvested. As a solution, the proposed research will provide the development of an electrostatic switch relay, which will utilize low actuate voltage (1.5-5V). In Phase I, the feasibility of this switch will be proven by developing and testing a prototype. The following technical objectives will be pursued: (1) simulate a long-cantilever/short-gap design, (2) develop a prototype device, and (3) test and evaluate the prototype device. The principal investigator hypothesizes an actuation voltage less than 5V for the proposed switch, which will prove that this solution is feasible. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project includes enabling the recovery of darker, more random, and extremely low disturbance energy provided by solar, vibration, or heat sources in the environment of the device. By commercializing this technology, a device will be offered that can harvest power that is normally too little to be recovered, saved, and reused. A no-power switch with low actuation voltage would be adopted as a key component in the market for ubiquitous energy harvesting. Companies looking for a self-sustained remote control system or for sensors to be installed in the fuselage of airplanes or in buildings would be interested in this product. The proposed solution is better competing devices because of the low power-managing strategy it utilizes for ultra-low energy harvesting. Competing devices either require high voltage or need to consume more power.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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