Vibration based energy harvesting has received extensive attention in the engineering community for the past decade thanks to its potential for autonomous powering small electronic devices. For this purpose, linear electromechanical devices converting mechanical to useful electrical energy have been extensively investigated. Such systems operate optimally when excited close to or at resonance, however, for these lightly damped structures small variations in the ambient vibration frequency results in a rapid reduction of performance. The idea to use nonlinearity to obtain large amplitude response in a wider frequency range, has shown the potential for achieving so called broadband energy harvesting. An interesting type of nonlinear structures exhibiting the desired broadband response characteristics are bi-stable composites. The bi-stable nature of these composites allows for designing several ranges of wide band large amplitude oscillations, from which high power can be harvested. In this paper, an analytical electromechanical model of cantilevered piezoelectric bi-stable composites for broadband harvesting is presented. The model allows to calculate the modal characteristics, such as natural frequencies and mode shapes, providing a tool for the design of bi-stable composites as harvesting devices. The generalised coupling coefficient is used to select the positioning of piezoelectric elements on the composites for maximising the conversion energy. The modal response of a test specimen is obtained and compared to theoretical results showing good agreement, thus validating the model.

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