Table of Contents
Smart Materials Research
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 853481, 13 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/853481
Review Article

Piezoelectric Energy Harvesting Devices: An Alternative Energy Source for Wireless Sensors

1Department of Physics, Midlands State University, P/Bag 9055, Gweru, Zimbabwe
2Department of Physics, University of Botswana, P/Bag 0022, Gaborone, Botswana

Received 14 December 2011; Revised 27 February 2012; Accepted 5 March 2012

Academic Editor: Mickaƫl Lallart

Copyright © 2012 Action Nechibvute et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

The recent advances in ultralow power device integration, communication electronics, and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) technology have fuelled the emerging technology of wireless sensor networks (WSNs). The spatial distributed nature of WSNs often requires that batteries power the individual sensor nodes. One of the major limitations on performance and lifetime of WSNs is the limited capacity of these finite power sources, which must be manually replaced when they are depleted. Moreover, the embedded nature of some of the sensors and hazardous sensing environment make battery replacement very difficult and costly. The process of harnessing and converting ambient energy sources into usable electrical energy is called energy harvesting. Energy harvesting raises the possibility of self-powered systems which are ubiquitous and truly autonomous, and without human intervention for energy replenishment. Among the ambient energy sources such as solar energy, heat, and wind, mechanical vibrations are an attractive ambient source mainly because they are widely available and are ideal for the use of piezoelectric materials, which have the ability to convert mechanical strain energy into electrical energy. This paper presents a concise review of piezoelectric microgenerators and nanogenerators as a renewable energy resource to power wireless sensors.