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Center for Energy Harvesting Materials and Systems (CEHMS)

Columbia University

Virginia Tech

Last Reviewed: (not done)

CEHMS will address an important problem of our generation facing the sensor networks, wireless communication and microelectronics industry related to power source.

Center Mission and Rationale

Mission: Providing integrated solutions to microelectronics, mobile and wireless technology problems through modeling, analysis, fabrication and demonstration of intelligent systems. Develop the architecture for “self-powered sensors” and open the pathway for distributed power sources. Demonstrate harvesters utilizing single and multimodal conversion mechanisms, adaptive energy harvesting circuits, intelligent energy management system, and conformal storage media.

Vision: Lead the global research and development in the area of energy harvesting by providing comprehensive expertise in all the related aspects including materials, components, system design, analysis, characterization and prototyping.

Research program

Multi-Scale Energy Harvesters

Several applications can be cited that will be directly influenced by the research conducted at the CEHMS. For example - one of the major questions facing the wireless sensor industry is “How to power the sensors?” “Who will replace billions of batteries?” The powering of the densely populated sensor nodes in a network is a critical problem due to the high cost of wiring and replacing batteries. In many cases, these operations may be prohibited by the infrastructure. In order for the nodes to be conveniently placed and efficiently utilized, they should be as small as possible, which puts an upper limit on their life time. If an electronic device with a 1 cm3 of non-rechargeable lithium battery (at maximum energy density of 2880 J/cm3 or 800 watt hour per liter) were to consume 100 µW of power on average, the device would last 333 days. A lifetime of approximately one year is not practical. Although the nodes in the wireless network will be much smaller than 1 cm3, the power requirements will force them to use a battery of much larger size increasing the system volume. Harvesting the energy available locally may supplement the battery or even replace them.

Thus, the development of multi-scale energy harvesters will solve critical problem facing the sensor industry in the implementation of the wireless networks and open the possibility of several autonomous self – powered applicationsincluding industrial health monitoring, condition based maintenance, perimeter security nets, border intrusion sensor nets, micro-robotic vehicles and UAV’s, aircraft structural health monitoring, and implantable medical devices.


Special Activities


Virginia Tech

310 Durham Hall (0261)
1145 Perry St

Blacksburg, Virginia, 24061

United States



Columbia University

610 SW Mudd Building

New York, New York, 10027

United States