Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Mechanical Engineering

Committee Chair/Advisor

Daqaq, Mohammed F

Committee Member

Vahidi, Ardalan

Committee Member

Li, Gang

Committee Member

Tallapragada, Phanindra


In the last few years, advances in micro-fabrication technologies have lead to the development of low-power electronic devices spanning critical fields related to sensing, data transmission, and medical implants. Unfortunately, effective utilization of these devices is currently hindered by their reliance on batteries. In many of these applications, batteries may not be a viable choice as they have a fixed storage capacity and need to be constantly replaced or recharged. In light of such challenges, several novel concepts for micro-power generation have been recently introduced to harness, otherwise, wasted ambient energy from the environment and maintain these low-power devices. Vibratory energy harvesting is one such concept which has received significant attention in recent years. While linear vibratory energy harvesters have been well studied in the literature and their performance metrics have been established, recent research has focused on deliberate introduction of stiffness nonlinearities into the design of these devices. It has been shown that, nonlinear energy harvesters have a wider steady-state frequency bandwidth as compared to their linear counterparts, leading to the premise that they can used to improve performance, and decrease sensitivity to variations in the design and excitation parameters. This dissertation aims to investigate this premise by developing an analytical framework to study the influence of stiffness nonlinearities on the performance and effective bandwidth of nonlinear vibratory energy harvesters. To achieve this goal, the dissertation is divided into three parts. The first part investigates the performance of bi-stable energy harvesters possessing a symmetric quartic potential energy function under harmonic excitations and carries out a detailed analysis to define their effective frequency bandwidth. The second part investigates the relative performance of mono- and bi-stable energy harvesters under optimal electric loading conditions. The third part investigates the response and performance of tri-stable energy harvesters possessing a symmetric hexic potential function under harmonic excitations and provides a detailed analysis to approximate their effective frequency bandwidth. As a platform to achieve these objectives, a piezoelectric nonlinear energy harvester consisting of a uni-morph cantilever beam is considered. Stiffness nonlinearities are introduced into the harvester’s design by applying a static magnetic field near the tip of the beam. Experimental studies performed on the proposed harvester are presented to validate some of the theoretical findings. Since nonlinear energy harvesters exhibit complex and non-unique responses, it is demonstrated that a careful choice of the design parameters namely, the shape of the potential function and the electromechanical coupling is necessary to widen their effective frequency bandwidth. Specifically, it is shown that, decreasing the electromechanical coupling and/or designing the potential energy function to have shallow wells, widens the effective frequency bandwidth for a given excitation level. However, this comes at the expense of the output power which decreases under these design conditions. It is also shown that the ratio between the mechanical period and time constant of the harvesting circuit has negligible influence on the effective frequency bandwidth but has considerable effect on the associated magnitude of the output power.



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