Tyndall researchers secure €1m grant for ‘energy harvesting’ project



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18 September 2013 | 0

A team of researchers at UCC’s Tyndall National Institute has been awarded €1 million in EU funding for research into developing ‘energy harvesting and storage’ capacity powered by low-frequency sources (less than 30Hz) such as a human heartbeat.
The project, MANpower, will target the development of perpetually, self-powered, electronic systems that can be implanted into the human body.

Explaining the research, Dr Alan Mathewson, principal investigator at Tyndall and head of the MANpower project, said: “Every time a human heart beats, it creates vibrations at a low frequency – about 1-30 Hz. The devices we are developing convert the vibrations from the heart into usable electrical energy, which can be used to power implantable devices such as a pacemaker.

"The ability to capture and store energy at such low frequencies has proved largely elusive to mankind. This is due to the stiffness of conventional silicon and similar materials traditionally used in energy harvesting devices, which is simply not conducive to low-frequency environments. With MANpower, we are designing a miniaturised device that will eliminate the need for large-scale batteries to power a pacemaker, by converting human heartbeat vibrations into electrical energy, to power implantable devices. In a world where so much time and effort is focussed on being bigger, faster and louder, this project is about being smaller, slower and quieter.”
The MANpower project builds upon research conducted at Tyndall’s Collaborative Centre for Applied Nanotechnology (CCAN), in conjunction with Analog Devices Inc. Limerick, which was funded by Enterprise Ireland.
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