Topology optimization and fabrication of low frequency vibration energy harvesting microdevices

Jiadong Deng, Katherine Rorschach, Evan Baker, Cheng Sun, Wei Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Topological design of miniaturized resonating structures capable of harvesting electrical energy from low frequency environmental mechanical vibrations encounters a particular physical challenge, due to the conflicting design requirements: low resonating frequency and miniaturization. In this paper structural static stiffness to resist undesired lateral deformation is included into the objective function, to prevent the structure from degenerating and forcing the solution to be manufacturable. The rational approximation of material properties interpolation scheme is introduced to deal with the problems of local vibration and instability of the low density area induced by the design dependent body forces. Both density and level set based topology optimization (TO) methods are investigated in their parameterization, sensitivity analysis, and applicability for low frequency energy harvester TO problems. Continuum based variation formulations for sensitivity analysis and the material derivative based shape sensitivity analysis are presented for the density method and the level set method, respectively; and their similarities and differences are highlighted. An external damper is introduced to simulate the energy output of the resonator due to electrical damping and the Rayleigh proportional damping is used for mechanical damping. Optimization results for different scenarios are tested to illustrate the influences of dynamic and static loads. To demonstrate manufacturability, the designs are built to scale using a 3D microfabrication method and assembled into vibration energy harvester prototypes. The fabricated devices based on the optimal results from using different TO techniques are tested and compared with the simulation results. The structures obtained by the level set based TO method require less post-processing before fabrication and the structures obtained by the density based TO method have resonating frequency as low as 100 Hz. The electrical voltage response in the experiment matches the trend of the simulation data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number025005
JournalSmart Materials and Structures
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015


  • low frequency
  • microfabrication
  • topology optimization
  • vibration energy harvesting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Signal Processing
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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