Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Mechanical Engineering

Degree Program

Mechanical Engineering, PhD

Committee Chair

Berfield, Thomas Austin

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Bradshaw, Roger

Committee Member

Williams, Stuart

Committee Member

McNamara, Shamus


Microharvesters (Microelectronics); Electric power production; Force and energy


Vibrational energy harvesters (VEH) are one way to generate electricity. Though the energy quantities are not enough to run desktop computers, they can power remote devices such as temperature, pressure, and accelerometer sensors or power biological implants. New versions of the Bluetooth protocol can even be used with VEH technology to send wireless data. An important aspect of VEH devices is the power output, operating frequency, and bandwidth. This dissertation investigates a novel method of actuating the primary buckled energy harvesting structure using torque arms as a force amplification mechanism. Buckled structures can exhibit snap-through and has the potential to broaden the operating frequency for the VEH. Macro and MEMS size prototypes are fabricated and evaluated via a custom made shaker table. The effect of compliance arms, which pin the center beam with piezoelectric strips, are also evaluated along with damping ratios. ANSYS models evaluating generated power are created for use in future optimization studies. Lastly, high energy orbitals (HEO) are observed in the devices. Results show that buckling lowers and broadens the output power of the new devices. Reverse sweeps drastically increase the operating frequency during snap-through. Rectangular compliance arms made of poly-lactic acid (PLA) generated the most power of all compliance arms tested. HEO performance can be induced by perturbing the system while maintaining the same input force which increases power output.