The pizzicato knee-joint energy harvester: characterization with biomechanical data and the effect of backpack load
The reduced power requirements of miniaturized electronics offer the opportunity to create devices which rely on energy harvesters for their power supply. In the case of wearable devices, human-based piezoelectric energy harvesting is particularly difficult due to the mismatch between the low frequency of human activities and the high-frequency requirements of piezoelectric transducers. We propose a piezoelectric energy harvester, to be worn on the knee-joint, that relies on the plucking technique to achieve frequency up-conversion. During a plucking action, a piezoelectric bimorph is deflected by a plectrum; when released due to loss of contact, the bimorph is free to vibrate at its resonant frequency, generating electrical energy with the highest efficiency. A prototype, featuring four PZT-5H bimorphs, was built and is here studied in a knee simulator which reproduces the gait of a human subject.