Stanford EE Computer Systems Colloquium

4:15PM, Wednesday, May 30, 2007
HP Auditorium, Gates Computer Science Building B01

Energy Harvesting for Wireless Sensors

Raj Amirtharajah
University of California, Davis
About the talk:

Harvesting energy from environmental sources can extend wireless sensor network node lifetime beyond the limits of battery technology. Potential energy sources include solar, thermal, and mechanical vibration, each of which has specific advantages and disadvantages. However, they all have in common that the output power from an energy harvester scales poorly with decreasing device dimensions and is highly variable. These two challenges can be addressed by appropriate circuit and system design which both decreases the average power consumption and enables a user-level tradeoff between accurate processing and energy dissipation. In this talk, we will give an overview of energy harvesting mechanisms, describe circuit and system microarchitecture techniques for energy harvesting wireless sensors, and give specific examples of designing for energy harvesting applications. Lastly, we will discuss future prospects for energy harvesting technology.


Download slides in PDF format.

Post Lecture Comments:

Several people asked at the talk about commercial exploitation of the ideas presented. There are a number of companies getting involved in the energy harvesting space. Many of them will be at the NanoPower Forum (, which will be held in San Jose, CA, June 4, 2007 through June 6, 2007. The program includes prominent researchers, academics, and industrial providers. Companies I know of will be participating include Perpetuum, Ferro Solutions, MicroStrain, and LV Sensors. In the interest of Full Disclosure, I (Raj Amirtharajah), am not involved in any way with these companies, although I know folks at some of them.

About the speaker:

Rajeevan Amirtharajah received the S.B., M.Eng., and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA. From 1999 to 2002, at High Speed Solutions Corp. (later Intel), Hudson, MA, he developed high performance memory buses. In 2003, he was a consulting engineer at SMaL Camera Technologies, Cambridge, MA, working on mixed-signal and digital circuit design. He is currently an assistant professor at the University of California, Davis, where his research focuses on low power microarchitecture, circuit and interconnect design, energy scavenging, and signal processing for wireless sensor nodes. He received the National Science Foundation CAREER award in 2006.

Contact information:

Raj Amirtharajah
University of California, Davis