Abstract: Our world is evolving to become more instrumented, interconnected and intelligent, with wireless sensors and microsystems being integrated in every aspect of our lives, from portable electronics and bio-implantable devices to bridges, industrial factories, irrigation systems, and smart grids. Yet the greatest impediment to large-scale global deployment of these smart microsystems is the need for long-lasting power. Tethering to a land-line or a finite-lifetime battery both limits the autonomous and continuous operation of these devices and results up to a tenfold markup in the cost of installation/maintenance. Within this context, energy harvesting and management technologies can enable truly wireless and energy-independent systems, which harness vibrational, thermal, solar or acoustic power from their environments. In this talk, I will outline our efforts to enhance the functionalities of next generation smart microsystems via design, modeling and microfabrication of new energy harvesting transducers and integration of power management electronics. Some of our technology platforms include bonding, thinning and patterning of bulk piezoelectric ceramics on silicon with high wafer-level precision and uniformity (±0.5 μm), and co-evaporation of bismuth/antimony telluride thermoelectric thin films with low contact resistance. Based on these processes, we realized several high-performance transducers, such as a 200-μW-output micro vibration energy harvester packaged with its self-supplied power management IC, and a thermal energy harvester integrated on a FinFET CMOS substrate. The talk will also discuss future challenges as well as opportunities for energy conversion and management technologies.
Bio: Erkan Aktakka is a Research Fellow in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Michigan. He received his B.S. degree from the Middle East Technical University (METU) in 2006, and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees (under Khalil Najafi) from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 2008 and 2012, respectively, all in electrical engineering. His research interests include energy harvesting and storage devices, smart materials and structures, interface circuits for transducers, microelectromechanical systems, microfabrication technologies, and acoustic/ultrasonic transducers. He co-founded and served as the first president of the Nanotechnology and Integrated Microsystems Student Association (NIMSA) at the University of Michigan. Dr. Aktakka received the DTE Clean Energy Prize in 2010, and Distinguished Achievement Award by the University of Michigan in 2011.