Project objectives

The smart-MEMPHIS project will develop both the technologies and the applications related to autonomous systems.

Technology-wise, the project will focus on the components needed for a self-powering system:

  • Lead-zirconate-titanium or PZT based piezoelectric micro-electromechanical (MEMS) energy harvester
  • Carbon-based supercapasitor for energy storage
  • An ultra-low power application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) design for power management of the system
  • Flat panel-level packaging for system integration

The two applications considered are a leadless pacemaker and a wireless sensor network for structural health monitoring (SHM).

Minimally invasive and durable pacemaker

Leadless pacemakers are tiny, battery-operated devices that are inserted directly into the heart through a vein. Compared to current pacemakers, they have two advantages

  1. The small size and entry through vein means minimal scarring, compared to a large, surgically inserted device like the current pacemaker.
  2. The batteries of normal pacemakers need to be regularly changed, requiring costly surgical operations.

© LivaNova. Reproduced with permission

© LivaNova. Reproduced with permission

Smart-MEMPHIS will use self-powering to address the most outstanding issue with leadless pacemakers: battery changes. By creating a system capable of recharging itself, the project will solve the problem of changing batteries of a device implanted inside the heart. The result is a more reliable and cost-effective pacemaker.

Wireless network for structural health monitoring

The energy harvesting system will also be demonstrated in an industrial application: a wireless sensor network for structural health monitoring (SHM).

Structural health monitoring is the process of detecting changes in materials or complex structures, for example micro-cracks in aircraft wings. 

In the smart-MEMPHIS project, a wireless sensor network with self-powering acoustic sensor nodes will be developed. Through SHM, the safety of the monitored structures is increased, as tiring, weakening and damage to the structures is noticed before they fail catastrophically.