SiNERGY, as a project, focuses on silicon and silicon friendly materials and technologies to explore energy harvesting and storage concepts for powering microsensors nodes.

Micro and nanotechnologies have already made possible the fabrication of small, low cost and good performance sensors that are called to be protagonists of continuous monitoring scenarios, distributed intelligence and the Internet-of-Things paradigm. Energy autonomy keeps being one of the most desired enabling functionalities in the context of off-grid applications, such as wireless sensor networks.

In many such applications, wired power is not feasible, and because of the modest energies involved batteries are normally used. However, battery replacement will eventually become impractical (economically, environmentally, and logistically) not only for sensor networks in remote places or harsh environments, but also for more standard applications if the number of nodes explodes exponentially.

Harvesting energy, tapping into environmentally available sources such as heat and vibrations, may be a good solution in man-made scenarios applications. Furthermore, coupling those harvester devices to secondary batteries to buffer enough energy to account for the power demand peaks required by the communications of wireless nodes could be a quite enabling energy autonomy solution.

Silicon is an abundant material amenable to micro and nanostructuration and silicon processing is an economy of scale technology apt to mass production. Although downsizing is not generically favorable to energy applications, this problem can be off-set by the capacity of silicon processing to integrate high density features in small volumes.

Even though SiNERGY focuses in the materials and technologies leading to harvesters and storage devices, attention will be paid to real applications. This knowledge will enable the correct dimensioning of the devices and will help us choosing a design and fabrication route that fulfill the power needs and overcome the constraints posed by those applications. In consequence, while the focus is placed on the devices themselves, system level integration issues will be considered as well, to keep in mind application-wise all the elements required by an eventual autonomous working sensor node, and to consider which of them may have an impact in some of our device architectural choices.



Timeline of the SiNERGY project

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