Abstract

Work toward the development of a thin-film piezoelectric membrane generator is presented. The membrane generator is the central component of a new MEMS power generation system, the P3 micro power system. The P3 micro power system is based on a two-dimensional, modular architecture, in which the individual generic modules or unit cells each have all the functions of an engine integrated. Each unit cell is an external combustion engine, in which thermal power is converted to mechanical power through the use of a novel thermodynamic cycle that approaches the ideal vapor Carnot cycle. Mechanical power is converted into electrical power through the use of a thin-film piezoelectric membrane generator. This paper introduces the concept of the thin-film piezoelectric membrane generator, and describes its design and fabrication. Results of a study to characterize the performance of the piezoelectric membrane generator under expected operating conditions are presented. Current prototypes of the membrane generator are shown to be capable of producing a peak power of 0.1 milliWatts at a voltage of 0.5 Volts.

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