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Energy HarveStorers for Powering the Internet of Things

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - HARVESTORE (Energy HarveStorers for Powering the Internet of Things)

Reporting period: 2018-12-01 to 2019-11-30

The internet of things will revolutionise the way in which we interact with the world around us: sensors of temperature, presence, traffic density will measure data and communicate to a control unit for decision-making. Autonomous actions for process optimization, intervention, environmental safeguard will be taken without human intervention.

IoT is an universe in fast expansion. A countless number of applications can be imagined: smart cities, remote health care, automated production lines…. We expect 27 billion devices to be installed by 2025, but how will they be powered? Batteries are bulky and environmentally unfriendly, thus strongly limiting the possibility of device miniaturization, at the same time posing serious problems of sustainability. Embracing the IoT in our lives will require the advent of a new generation of portable power sources. For this, the project HarveStore aims to introduce a family of micro-energy sources (micro-Harvestorers) which will be autonomous, rechargeable and will offer high specific power for full integration with the nodes of the future IoT. The micro-Harvestorers will work on two steps: energy harvesting from ubiquitous heat and light and energy storage in the form of a fuel or of electric charge. Such two steps will be carried out at the same time and the total footprint of the device will not exceed 1 cm3. Harvestore will provide power on your fingertip.

The scientific and technological foundations of the project are related to the highly advanced concepts of Nanoioncs and Iontronics, for which new materials can be designed ad-hoc by taking advantage of local effects at the nanoscale. This way, surprising properties of fast conduction and high storage capacity can be obtained. The concepts behind Nanoionics and Iontronics have already been proven by advanced research experiments and, with HarveStore, we want to feed them into mainstream technology by taking advantage of silicon microfabrication techniques. Silicon ensures superior manufacturability, cost-effectiveness and the possibility to host dense structures in a seamless architecture; all in an environmentally friendly material. Silicon is the champion to bring micro and nano technologies to the economy of scale and is therefore the material of choice for the support of the micro-Harvestorers.
During the first year of activity, the HarveStore consortium has been devoted to the development of new experimental methods, to the fabrication and the study of novel nanostructured materials and to the implementation of thin film oxide fabrication in mainstream silicon technology.
New experimental tools have been made available for the analysis of the ions distribution across interfaces with high resolution and for following the ionic migration during operation (in-situ/in-operando measurements). Such tools comprise a spectroscopic ellipsometer coupled to closed chambers for the analysis of the state of charge in electrode materials and an in-situ Raman to perform kinetic studies and extract the transport coefficients of functional oxide thin films for electrochemical devices. Decisive advances for reaching high resolution in surface and local chemical analysis via low-energy ion scattering (LEIS) and unique Plasma Focused Ion Beam-Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (Hi-5) have been obtained. As a support to the investigation, partners have developed theoretical models for solid/gas reaction and simulations of relevant materials for the project, which allow predicting the mechanism of conduction and the thermochemical stability at the interface level. At the experimental level, the consortium has focused on the definition of the thin film layer materials for the devices. This activity is the first step towards property engineering via nanoionics and iontronics. New nanoionics effects have been identified for the enhancement of the oxygen exchange kinetics in doped lanthanides, paving the way towards the universal understanding of fast oxygen diffusion and incorporation at the grain boundary level. Effects related to iontronics have been revealed especially in relation to light harvesting, where the intimate relation between light absorption and charge accumulation in the form of ion migration has been brought to the fore. The design of scalable manufacturing processes compatible with silicon technology has been addressed via the optimization of large area deposition techniques of lithium and oxygen-ion conductors via radio frequency sputtering, large area pulsed laser deposition and spatial atomic layer deposition.
The HarveStore project aims to take ground-breaking concepts from Iontronics and Nanoioncs to build up a radically new family of micro-energy devices, covering the total lack of the implementation of these concepts in real life systems and bringing interface-dominated material to the industry. Moreover, the consortium aspires to set out new theoretical approaches and tools (especially in the uncharted territory of in situ characterization of ionic transport properties) to establish the foundations of such a new technology. Such advanced tools will push forward the frontiers of high resolution and in situ/ in operando characterization of ion-assisted phenomena at the nanoscale. HarveStore will result into the fabrication of three families of micro-harvestorers fully compatible with silicon technology and offer high specific power (0.5-10 mW and 1-100 J) for integration with the nodes of the future IoT. Besides, it will quantify the enhancing effects of nanoionics and iontronics concepts in solid-state harvesting and storage technologies, will quantify the enhancing effects of nanoionics and iontronics concepts for all-solid state energy harvesting and storage, will smartly integrate devices in realistic IoT devices, nodes and networks and will become a lighthouse action on embedded micro-energy for the technical community. HarveStore approach is to consolidate an interdisciplinary community around the proposed paradigm in order to establish the foundations of the proposed technology. When successful in reaching the targets, the HarveStore technology can address the IoT market, contributing to a strong reduction in environmental impact given by primary batteries. When benchmarked against current existing wireless powering technologies (batteries), the HarveStore will be able to overcome significant problems such as periodic replacement, use in hazardous or high temperature environments, therefore representing a very competitive solution in IoT and especially in the industrial-IoT world, which is predicted to have a potential economic impact of ~€1 trillion by 2025. The HarveStore project is based on 8 key research actors from different disciplines and EU countries, 2 ambitious SMEs founded on high technological and innovative IoT products which will allow spreading excellence and building leading innovation capacity across EU, together with engaging different audience via ambitious dissemination and communication actions.
Large area free standing ceramic membranes, the core of some of the micro-harvestorers
Showing examples of energy harvesting at the HarveStore Stand. Researcher's Night Grenoble (FR),