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Energy Harvesting for Soft-Matter Machines and Electronics

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Technical Report,15 Mar 2013,14 Mar 2016

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Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh United States

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Air Force AF materials capable of dramatic changes in shape and rigidity require soft-matter electronics that support functionality without interfering with the mechanics of the host structure. In this program, I introduced a new class of soft multifunctional materials that can be used to power these systems by converting elastic strain energy from large deformations into electricity. These materials are composed of soft elastomers embedded with a suspension of liquid metal LM droplets that control the electrical properties of the composite. Depending on their composition and microstructure, these LM-embedded elastomers LMEEs can be tailored to exhibit exceptionally high electric conductivity, electric permittivity, andor thermal conductivity. LMEEs with high permittivity can function as high-k dielectrics for storing and harvesting electrostatic energy. When integrated with an elastically deformable AF structure, they have the potential to generate electricity as the host structure stretches, twists, or bends under external loading. This external loading may arise from air drag, wind, ambient vibrations, collisions, etc. and represents mechanical work that would be otherwise dissipated through damping.

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