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Improved Energy Harvesting for Current-Carrying Conductors

There are an estimated 130 million wooden poles that support overhead power lines in the US.  Extreme weather, aging, storms or sabotage can all lead to potential damage of these poles and power lines, which can leave large areas without basic necessities.  Due to this risk, it’s anticipated that power utility companies will deploy sensors and corresponding energy harvesters to better respond to potential damage of this critical electricity grid infrastructure. To address this anticipated mass deployment of sensors and harvesters, researchers at UC Berkeley have developed technology improvements to harvesting of electrical energy from energized conductors carrying alternating currents, such as those on overhead and underground power lines (as well as power-supplying conductors in offices and dwellings).  These enhanced harvesters would improve the economics of deploying sensors across a national power grid.  The Berkeley harvesters can readily provide enough power to supply wireless communication devices, energy storage batteries and capacitors, as well as sensors such as accelerometers, particulate matter measuring devices, and atmospheric sensors.

Distributed Dynamic Strain Fiber Optics Measurement For Use In Sensors

96 Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;} Structural health monitoring (SHM) is becoming critical in structural engineering and geotechnical engineering applications in recent years. The use of fiber optic distributed sensors for SHM has the advantage of long sensing distance, distributed sensing information and small size.  Distributed fiber optic sensors can be used to monitor distributed temperature and strain information but also has application for used in detection of seismic activity, security sensing, and traffic/railway/bridge monitoring.   UC Berkeley researchers have developed methods and sensors for distributed dynamic strain measurement using optical fiber that results in a larger sensing signal, better signal-to-noise ratio and longer sensing distance up to a few km lengths. The system can take strain readings at every 4m along an 1km length optical fiber at 2.5 kHz sampling speed with a strain resolution of 30 microstrain.  

RF-Powered Micromechanical Clock Generator

Realizing the potential of massive sensor networks requires overcoming cost and power challenges. When sleep/wake strategies can adequately limit a network node's sensor and wireless power consumption, then the power limitation comes down to the real-time clock (RTC) that synchronizes sleep/wake cycles. With typical RTC battery consumption on the order of 1µW, a low-cost printed battery with perhaps 1J of energy would last about 11 days. However, if a clock could bleed only 10nW from this battery, then it would last 3 years. To attain such a clock, researchers at UC Berkeley developed a mechanical circuit that harnesses squegging to convert received RF energy (at -58dBm) into a local clock while consuming less than 17.5nW of local battery power. The Berkeley design dispenses with the conventional closed-loop positive feedback approach to realize an RCT (along with its associated power consumption) and removes the need for a sustaining amplifier altogether. 

Shaped Piezoelectric Micromachined Ultrasonic Transducer Device

Piezoelectric Micromachined Ultrasonic Transducers (pMUTs) have attracted industry attention for their good acoustic matching, small geometry, low cost-by-batch fabrication, and compatibilities with CMOS and consumer electronics. While planar pMUTs have reasonable performance over bulk piezoelectric transducers, certain deficits remain in terms of coupling and acoustic pressure outputs, DC displacements, bandwidth, and power consumption. To address these deficiencies, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have developed a next generation of shaped pMUTs which are no longer fully defined by resonance frequency and can accommodate larger pressure outputs and bandwidths. This new pMUT apparatus can significantly boost overall performance while dramatically reducing power as compared to flat diaphragm state-of-the-art pMUTs.


96 Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;} Citrus pulp and sugar beet pulp are pectin-rich agricultural wastes that are globally produced in significant amounts and have the potential to contribute towards the greater bioeconomy as a source of raw, inexpensive carbohydrate biomass. There is currently limited use for these waste streams. In some cases, pulps are dried, pelleted, and repurposed as an inexpensive livestock feed, however this application is barely profitable due to high production costs. There is a need for technologies that can cost-effectively transform pectin-rich waste streams into value-added products of commercial interest.   UC Berkeley researchers developed an efficient microbial strain technology and metabolic fermentation methods for the bioconversion of pectin-rich waste streams to useful bio-based commodity chemicals and biofuels. In addition to the beneficial environmental impact of utilizing a waste-stream, the fermentation technologies achieve three design goals set to optimize the productivity of bioconversions and economic viability. First, the technology allows for anaerobic fermentation, eliminating the need for culture oxygenation. This lowers operating costs by simplifying the metabolic requirements of high-density fermentation cultures. Second, co- utilization of the major component monosaccharides in the hydrolysate broth allows for productive conversion of the predominant, energy- rich biomass sugars. Third, fermentations can be conducted at low pH, discouraging contaminant growth and eliminating the need to buffer the hydrolysate mixture.  

Apparatus and Method for 2D-based Optoelectronic Imaging

The use of electric fields for signaling and manipulation is widespread, mediating systems spanning the action potentials of neuron and cardiac cells to battery technologies and lab-on-a-chip devices. Current FET- and dye-based techniques to detect electric field effects are systematically difficult to scale, costly, or perturbative. Researchers at the University of California Berkeley have developed an optical detection platform, based on the unique optoelectronic properties of two-dimensional materials that permits high-resolution imaging of electric fields, voltage, acidity, strain and bioelectric action potentials across a wide field-of-view.

MyShake: Earth Quake Early Warning System Based on Smartphones

Earthquakes are unpredictable disasters. Earthquake early warning (EEW) systems have the potential to mitigate this unpredictability by providing seconds to minutes of warning. This warning could enable people to move to safe zones, and machinery (such as mass transit trains) to be slowed or shutdown. The several EEW systems operating around the world use conventional seismic and geodetic network infrastructure – that only exist in a few nations. However, the proliferation of smartphones – which contain accelerometers that could potentially detect earthquakes – offers an opportunity to create EEW systems without the need to build expensive infrastructure. To take advantage of this smartphone opportunity, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley have developed a technology to allow earthquake alerts to be issued based on detecting earthquakes underway using the sensors in smartphones. Called MyShake, this EEW system has been shown to record magnitude 5 earthquakes at distances of 10 km or less. MyShake incorporates an on-phone detection capability to distinguish earthquakes from every-day shakes. The UC Berkeley technology also collects earthquake data at a central site where a network detection algorithm confirms that an earthquake is underway as well as estimates the location and magnitude in real-time. This information can then be used to issue an alert of forthcoming ground shaking. Additionally, the seismic waveforms recorded by MyShake could be used to deliver rapid microseism maps, study impacts on buildings, and possibly image shallow earth structure and earthquake rupture kinematics.

An Ultra-Sensitive Method for Detecting Molecules

To-date, plasmon detection methods have been utilized in the life sciences, electrochemistry, chemical vapor detection, and food safety. While passive surface plasmon resonators have lead to high-sensitivity detection in real time without further contaminating the environment with labels. Unfortunately, because these systems are passively excited, they are intrinsically limited by a loss of metal, which leads to decreased sensitivity. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley have developed a novel method to detect distinct molecules in air under normal conditions to achieve sub-parts per billion detection limits, the lowest limit reported. This device can be used detecting a wide array of molecules including explosives or bio molecular diagnostics utilizing the first instance of active plasmon sensor, free of metal losses and operating deep below the diffraction limit for visible light.  This novel detection method has been shown to have superior performance than monitoring the wavelength shift, which is widely used in passive surface plasmon sensors. 

Cross Reactive FET Array for Gas Mixture Detection

Conventional chemical sensor discriminates different analytes by rejecting the interference using selective decorations on the sensor body. A cross-reactive chemical sensor array discriminates different analytes by interpreting the collective sensor response using signal processing technique, and solves for the interference. Commercial sensor manufacturers search for the optimal choice of material, identifier and the signal processing technique to maximize the sensor performance in terms of chemical detection and discrimination. To address the need, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have developed a platform with 2D material incorporated in a cross-reactive field effect transistor (FET) sensor array. By examining and manipulating the properties of the sensor array, researchers have invented a low power, high efficiency, and versatile chemical sensing technology that is promising for commercialization.

Electret-Based MEMS Device For Harvesting Energy From Nearby Energized Conductors

There is great potential for small, low-cost wireless sensors to pervade society, such as sensors for electricity grids, environmental pollution and emergency situations. However, to realize this ubiquity, these sensors must have low-cost, long-life power sources. Harvesting ambient energy has the potential to meet the needs of these wireless sensors.To address this opportunity, researchers at UC Berkeley have developed a new type of energy harvester. This Berkeley harvester obtains its energy from nearby energized conductors. In comparison to other energy harvesters, this battery-less device has the ability to function for many years.

Bimorph Piezoelectric Micromachined Ultrasonic Transducers

Piezoelectric Micromachined Ultrasonic Transducers (pMUTs) have attracted industry attention for their good acoustic matching, large bandwidth, miniaturization, and low cost-by-batch fabrication. pMUTs have the advantages of low power consumption and large deflection for high-acoustic power applications. However, low electromechanical coupling has been a serious drawback for pMUT applications, in some cases foreclosing key opportunities. In response to this challenge, researchers at UC Berkeley have developed a bimorph pMUT with unique advantages which dramatically improve the device capabilities: the bimorph pMUT utilizing two active AlN layers in a CMOS-compatible process. This innovative design is the first bimorph pMUT with two active piezoelectric layers separated by a common electrode. The prototype bimorph pMUT has a resonant frequency of 198.8 kHz and central displacement of 407.4 nm/V. Under the differential drive scheme using the dual electrodes at low frequency, the measured central displacement is 13.0 nm/V, which is about 400% higher than that of a unimorph AlN pMUT. This revolutionary dual electrode bimorph pMUT presents a new class of design/fabrication for exciting pMUT applications, including range finders and gesture recognition devices.

Self-Curved Diaphragms By Stress Engineering For Highly Responsive pMUT

Curved pMUTs, as developed at UC Berkeley, have been shown to have 2 orders of magnitude improvement over flat pMUTs as well as the capacity for post-processing tuning. However, it is desirable to improve production methods to make this innovation more commercially applicable.To meet this challenge, investigators at Berkeley have developed a self-curved diaphragm process using stress engineering to produce highly responsive curved pMUTs. This diaphragm pMUT can boost 6X better performance compared to the flat diaphragm state-of-the-art pMUT. CMOS foundry-based process flow has produced self-curved diaphragms by engineering residual stress in thin films to construct molds for fabrication. Benefits of the invention include achieving silicon curved molds by patterning thin layers of stressed silicon nitride and silicon oxide layers on top of a silicon plate of a predetermined thickness.

Self-Anchoring Nickel Microelectrodes Embedded In Thermoplastics For Lab-On-Chip Devices

Microfluidic technologies have demonstrated great potential in a wide variety of fields, providing accurate and reliable management of small samples and reagents. Healthcare is particularly well-positioned to benefit from this technology with an ongoing rise in demand for point-of-care (POC) health technologies, including concepts such as lab-on-a-chip (LOC). Despite their promise, these LOC devices have not been widely commercialized or adopted primarily because of the critical transition from an initial research design into a final product. To overcome this challenge, differences in the fabrication methods used in the research process and in final industrial production need to be eliminated.To meet this challenge, investigators at UC Berkeley have made a groundbreaking development creating microfluidic devices in plastics, bridging the fabrication process from lab to commercial manufacturing. Utilizing hot embossing, a new fabrication methodology has been developed for embedding metallic microelectrodes in thermoplastic microfluidic devices. Microelectrodes are first fabricated on steel wafers by means of photolithographic techniques and electrode position, and then transferred to the plastic using hot embossing. The unique shape of the microelectrodes provides self-anchoring mechanisms that ensure structural stability and reliability of the devices. A wide variety of thermoplastics can be used in this process, including polycarbonate, polymethylmethacrylate, cyclic olefin copolymer, and others. Moreover, this technique can be combined with embedded silicon-based sensors providing the necessary connectronics and access to the miniaturized biological or physical sample. With this rapid fabrication method for microfluidic prototypes it is possible to scale the fabrication to a large series of devices easily, shortening the transition of current research to commercial microfluidic devices and revolutionizing current production practices.

A Network-Connected, Low-Power Early Warning Device For Natural And Man-Made Disasters

Earthquake early warning (EEW) networks are prevalent in several earthquake prone nations. For example, the Japanese EEW network has provided seconds to minutes of warning across the country - saving lives and properties. These EEW networks make use of the ability of sensors near a rupture point to transmit information about the rupture faster than the propagation of the earthquake wave. This is analogous to how the observed delay between a lightening flash and the corresponding thunder clap increases with distance from the lightening location. Likewise, the time delay between the EEW warning and an earthquake shaking can increase with distance from the epicenter. In 2013 the State of California mandated the development of an EEW system. However, the State hasn't funded the full deployment of the systems, so it is only available as a beta system in selected areas for selected entities.To leverage this emerging EEW, researchers at UC Berkeley (who have access to this EEW beta system) have developed an EEW alarm that has similar characteristics to ubiquitous, consumer fire/smoke alarms. The distinguishing attributes of the Berkeley earthquake alarm include: a low cost of manufacturing; easy installation (i.e. it doesn't require a professional to install); the form-factor of a home fire alarm; wireless connection to the EEW network; low power (3V, 5V or power-over-internet); battery back-up; always-on operation; audible and visual alerts. The device could also potentially connect to other warning networks such as for tsunamis, tornadoes, chemical spills, radioactive fallout, civil unrest, air-raids, etc. For detailed information, go to: http://5nf5.blogspot.com/2014/09/early-warning-device-of-earthquakes-and-other-maladies-for-everyone.html

MyPart: Personal Laser Air Particle Counter

In 2013 the World Health Organization estimated 3.7 million premature deaths were caused by outdoor air pollution, and about 90% of these cases were reported in low- and middle-income communities. The primary air pollutant in these areas are small airborne particulate matter of 10 microns or less in diameter (PM10). PM10 can penetrate and lodge deep inside human lungs and can contribute to the development of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, as well as lung cancer. In cases like this, it might be desirable to have a personal system for low-cost air quality sensing of airborne particulate matter like PM10. While there are several consumer-level options for personal air monitoring on the market today, their everyday use is limited in terms of size, cost, reliability, and power. To help address these problems, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley have developed systems, software, and methods towards an ultra-portable, high-performance, low-cost mobile air quality sensing platform. The research is ongoing and investigators have demonstrated strong proof of concept, with accurate detections with known air samples consisting of fine (<2.5 micron) and coarse (2.5-10 micron) particle sizes. The Berkeley system and methods hold promise in helping make personal air quality monitoring more accessible for at-risk populations, where health concerns and air quality are most contentious and misrepresented.

Chemical-Sensitive Field-Effect Transistor

Conventional metal-oxide semiconductor field-effect transistor (MOSFET) technology consists of a source, drain, gate, and substrate. The chemical field-effect transistor (chemFET) is a type of a field-effect transistor acting as a chemical sensor, and is similar to MOSFET except for the gate structures. Modern industrial players seek higher-sensitivity technologies which are small, durable, efficient, and versatile. Further advances in these materials and structures could enable many new kinds of layered semiconductors and devices. To address need, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have developed chemical-sensitive field-effect transistor (CS-FET) platform technology. By exploiting selective thin films incorporated into the CS-FET, researchers have created chemical sensors with commercial promise in terms of chemical-versatility and low-power. 

Occupant-Tracking Fan

Berkeley researchers have created an electric fan with visual detection camera and movement recognition software to identify the presence and location of occupants. Occupant tracking algorithm localizes air movements to individualize comfort and conserve energy. The fan can be integrated in ceilings, wall partitions or office furniture.

Novel Porous Organic Polymers for Ammonia Adsorption

Ammonia is used in many industrial and commercial applications, for example in the manufacture of fertilizers and cleaners.  However, ammonia is toxic at high concentrations and, therefore, safe storage and transportation of ammonia is required. In addition, trace amounts of ammonia in the atmosphere contaminate and interfere with certain industrial processes, such as semiconductor fabrication, which requires ultra-pure air. Proper ammonia management includes the adsorption of the gas under each of these pressure regimes: high-pressure adsorption for safe storage and transportation and low-pressure adsorption for the removal of trace contaminants from the ambient air. Current methods of adsorption include simple salts, such as MgCl2, but these are not efficient for low-pressure adsorption and furthermore their ammonia cycle is inefficient, requiring significant heat exchange and large changes in volume. Investigators at UC Berkeley have developed a novel polymer for ammonia adsorption that uses acidic materials placed in a spatial arrangement that allows for cooperative adsorption. This not only increases the efficiency of adsorption but also is effective at both high-pressure and low-pressure ammonia adsorption, resulting in multiple applications of the technology. 

Pyroelectric MEMS Infrared Sensor with Numerous Wavelength Absorptions

In recent years, gas sensors for industrial applications have experienced great advances through rapid evolution of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). As a result of increased government legislative pressure on industrial health and safety, commercial customers are demanding integrated smart sensor technology and systems which leverage MEMS for small footprint, low cost, and high-performance features. Market researchers suggest double-digit compound annual growth rates for MEMS sensors through 2018, with the fastest growth is expected in the semiconductor sensor base. Traditional infrared gas analyzers determine the absorption of an emitted infrared light source through a certain air sample. Nondispersive infrared technology (NDIR) detects certain gas by detecting the absorption of infrared wavelengths that is characteristic of that gas. NDIR detectors are the industry standard method of measuring the concentration of carbon oxides. Researchers at UC Berkeley and Davis have successfully demonstrated pyroelectric infrared detectors that exhibit high sensitivity and reliable performance for advanced gas analyses. The MEMS technology is well suited for constant monitoring in harsh environments where long term stability is important, such as petroleum, medical, and industrial monitoring settings.

Highly Complex MOFs and Methods of Making Same

Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) are porous crystalline nano-materials that are constructed by linking metal clusters called Secondary Building Units (SBUs) and organic linking ligands. This case provides MOFs which comprise a plurality of SBUs comprising different metals or metal ions and/or a plurality of organic linking moieties comprising different functional groups.

MEMS Nanowire Ion Sensor

Sensing and quantifying ions in liquid is important in many research and commercial applications. For instance, pH is often a key component in manufacturing. In biology, sensing ions in solution, such as lab-on-a-chip applications, can be pivotal to an effective application. In many of these technology areas, miniaturization and low cost production of ion sensors is critical.To address this challenge, investigators at University of California at Berkeley have developed a MEMS nanowire ion sensor. This sensor employs a MEMS device where ions are sensed with nanowires using an alternating current (AC) electric field. The MEMS nanowire ion sensor can serve as a chemical sensor. By example, the MEMS nanowire ion sensor can be employed as a pH sensor or pH monitor for environment, infrastructure or plant facility. In biologic applications, the MEMS nanowire ion sensor can serve as a biosensor for biomolecule detection, DNA sequences, blood testing, and an ion species identifier, among others. 

Piezoelectric Filter with Tunable Gain

There is a long-standing problem of how to switch piezoelectric filters when used in switchable filter banks -- such as needed in RF channel-selection. To address this problem, researchers at UC Berkeley have developed a method and structure for a piezoelectric resonator with tunable transfer function -- i.e. tunable gain. This Berkeley resonator's gain is tunable to many values -- including values that are low enough to consider the device to be "off" relative to the background signal. Accordingly, this approach enables on/off switching of piezoelectric resonators; and it thereby obviates the need for separate low loss switches, which otherwise would be needed in series with piezoelectric resonators to switch them on and off -- adding insertion loss and raising system gain. In addition, this ability to adjust filter gain makes it possible for the resonator to control low power gain in a receiver front-end.

Highly Responsive PMUT

Ultrasonic imaging is one of the most important and widely used medical imaging techniques, which uses high-frequency sound waves to view soft tissues such as muscles, internal organs as well as blood flowing through blood vessels in real time. With the advancement of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), ultrasonic devices operated based on plate flexural mode have shown remarkable improvements in bandwidth, cost, and yield over the conventional thickness-mode PZT sensors. MEMS fabrication technologies can be utilized to realize both capacitive (cMUTs) and piezoelectric (pMUTs) micromachined ultrasonic transducers However, these devices could enjoy much more widespread applications if they were adjustable , better focused with lower energy requirements.   In response to this challenge, Investigators at University of California at Berkeley have developed innovative design and fabrication concept to make piezoelectric micromachined ultrasonic transducer (pMUT) based on a CMOS compatible fabrication process for the first time. The prototype device shows a resonant frequency in the MHz range with a DC displacement exceeding 1nm/V (more than one order of magnitude higher than typical pMUTs at similar frequencies). As such, this new class of pMUTs has the potential of replacing the state-of-art pMUTs for high electromechanical coupling ultrasonic transducer arrays.

MEMS-Based Charge Pump

The reduction of power supply voltage with each new generation of CMOS technology continues to complicate the design of charge pumps needed for high voltage applications that integrate into systems alongside transistor chips -- such as the increasing number of MEMS-based gyroscopes, timing oscillators, and gas sensors. Moreover, the aggressive scaling in CMOS resulting in lower dielectric and junction breakdown voltages has compelled the use of customized CMOS processes -- including increased gate oxide thickness and/or added deep-n-wells. Clearly, advances in transistor technology are moving in the opposite direction of the needs of high voltage MEMS applications. To address this trend, researchers at UC Berkeley have developed a MEMS-based charge pump. This design avoids the turn-on voltage and breakdown limitation of CMOS. With much higher breakdown voltages than transistor counterparts, the demonstrated MEMS charge pump implementation should eventually allow voltages higher than 50V desired for capacitive-gap transduced resonators that currently dominate the commercial MEMS-based timing market.

Improved Condensation Technology

Dehumidifier and condenser applications (where water is condensed onto a chilled surface) are common in power plants, desalination plants, chillers and heat exchangers. In these applications, condensation can be enhanced with an alternating hydrophilic-hydrophobic pattern on the condensation surface. This patterning has been implemented using polymers, self-assembled monolayers and other non-conducting materials. These approaches create chemically heterogeneous surfaces that have limited lifetimes -- due to the thickness and durability of the film.To address this situation, researchers at UC Berkeley have developed a surface with alternating hydrophilic-hydrophobic patterning that promote dual and simultaneous modes of condensation -- filmwise and sustained dropwise condensation -- on a chemically homogenous conducting material (metal substrate) -- which is the material of choice for condenser applications. This innovation is achieved with a practical and scalable technique of surface machining or roughening based on the preferred dimensions of the pattern. The resulting chemically homogenous, conductive substrate is important for maintaining a substrate with high thermal conductivity and doesn't add any thermal resistance that would impede the condensation heat transfer.  

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