Energy Harvesting from Flying Insects

Electrically controlled insects are a robust alternative to robotic micro air vehicles, and can achieve superior flight capability for search-and-rescue operations and monitoring of hazardous environments. Due to restrictions in payload and mission periods, cyborg insects cannot to rely on conventional batteries, but require renewable and light-weight power sources. Here, we researched feasibility of harvesting biomechanical energy from the insect flight for the first time, and experimentally determined optimum locations for power generation from wing motions. Backpack style non-resonant energy scavengers are fabricated and mounted on the insects, and 45-115 μW is generated from 85-100 Hz wing strokes during in-vivo and in-vitro tests, sufficient to power neural stimulators implanted on the insect. In addition to demonstration of energy harvesting from a live insect for the first time, a new spiral transducer design is introduced based on variable polarization fields.

Related Publications:

E. E. Aktakka, H. Kim, K. Najafi, “Energy scavenging from insect flight,” J. of Micromechanics and Microengineering, vol. 21, No.9, 095016, pp.1-11, 2011. [PDF]

E. E. Aktakka, H. Kim, M. Atashbar, and K. Najafi, “Mechanical energy scavenging from flying insects,” Solid- State Sensors, Actuators, and Microsystems Workshop (Hilton Head 2008), pp. 382–383, June 2008. [PDF]