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Flexible Thermoelectric Micro Generator

Femtosecond micro machiningFlexible thermoelectric micro-generatorsSensor networksThermoelectric materials

Introduction

The object of this patent is a flexible thermoelectric micro-generator (μ-TEG) based on moulded polymer conductors. This invention, in particular, makes it possible to maximise thermal coupling, enabling a high density of thermocouples to be manufactured by direct writing processes.

Technical features

The patented invention (TRL 3) concerns flexible thermoelectric micro-generators (μ -TEG) based on moulded polymeric conductors and designed in such a way as to maximise thermal coupling. In contrast to what is usually done, the device is realised by creating high-density micro-cavities through a flexible plastic substrate that will serve to house the thermocouples (which will be obtained through inks containing thermoelectric materials). In this way, the exposure of the thermoelectric material can be doubled without the interposition of plastic insulating material. Micro-cavities are realised using the Femtosecond Laser Micromachining technique, which makes it possible to create high-density structures  without compromising power, indeed maximising it.

Possible Applications

  • Low-power batteries in the field of wireless sensor networks: (e.g. infrastructure monitoring, security and surveillance, etc.);
  • Energy harvesting and management (energy harvesting) of batteries;
  • Implantable sensors: continuous power supply using body energy;
  • Intelligent sensing.

Advantages

  • Maximisation of thermal coupling;
  • Increased exposure of the thermoelectric material and no plastic insulating material framing;
  • High structural density and consequent maximisation of power;
  • Flexibility;
  • Low cost.