A Device for Harvesting Mechanical Energy Through a Piezoelectrochemical Effect

Web Published:

Princeton Docket # 15-3135-1


Researchers in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Princeton University have developed a piezoelectrochemical device which uses mechanical stress to produce a voltage/current.


Mechanical energy harvesting is an increasingly important method of providing power to distributed sensor networks where physical connection to a power source is impractical. Conventional methods use vibrations to actuate a piezoelectric element, coil/magnet assembly, or capacitor plates, thereby generating an electric current. The low charge-density of these devices excludes their application in low frequency and static load sources, with the lowest frequency reported devices limited to 10 Hz.


This innovation relates to a device for harvesting mechanical energy through a piezoelectrochemical effect, a similar but physically distinct effect from the piezoelectric effect. Piezoelectrics use mechanical deformation to physically separate charges in a crystal to produce a voltage, whereas piezoelectrochemical materials use mechanical stress to alter the thermodynamics of an electrochemical reaction to produce a voltage/current. Piezoelectrochemical energy harvesters are expected to produce orders of magnitude more energy per load cycle than piezoelectrics and comparable power capabilities. These characteristics make piezoelectrochemical energy harvesters ideal for application in low-frequency and static loading scenarios for which conventional mechanical energy harvesting technology is poorly suited. Examples of such load sources include, but are not limited to, human footsteps, vehicular loads, and pressure vessels.



•       Power generation from low-frequency and static loading such as:

o       Footsteps

o       Vehicular loads

o       Pressure vessels



•       High charge density

•       Produce magnitudes more energy per load cycle

•       Low frequency loading

•       Complimentary to piezoelectric energy harvester


The faculty inventor


Craig Arnold is a Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and Associate Director of Academic Affairs in the Princeton Institute for Science and Technology of Materials. His research primarily focuses on laser processing and transport in materials with particular emphasis on shaping laser-material interactions. Among many awards and honors Professor Arnold has won are the NSF Career Award (2006) and ONR Young Investigators Award (2005).


Intellectual Property & Development status

Patent protection is pending.

Princeton is currently seeking commercial partners for the further development and commercialization of this opportunity.



Michael R. Tyerech

Princeton University Office of Technology Licensing

• (609) 258-6762• tyerech@princeton.edu

Xin (Shane) Peng

Princeton University Office of Technology Licensing

• (609) 258-5579• xinp@princeton.edu


Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Prabhpreet Gill
Licensing Associate
Princeton University
Craig Arnold
John Cannarella