Many signals of interest in the assessment of structural systems lie in the quasi-static range (frequency ≪ 1Hz). This poses a significant challenge for the development of self-powered sensors that are required not only to monitor these events but also to harvest the energy for sensing, computation and storage from the signal being monitored. This paper combines the use of mechanically-equivalent frequency modulators and piezo-powered threshold detection modules capable of computation and data storage with a total current less than 10nA. The system is able to achieve events counting for input deformations at frequencies lower than 0.1Hz.

The used mechanically-equivalent frequency modulators allow the transformation of the low-amplitude and low-rate quasi-static deformations into an amplified input to a piezoelectric transducer. The sudden transitions in unstable mode branch switching, during the elastic postbuckling response of slender columns and plates, are used to generate high-rate deformations. Experimental results show that an oscillating semi-crystalline plastic polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF), attached to the up-converting modules, is able to generate a harvestable energy at levels between 0.8μJ to 2μJ.

In this work, we show that a linear injection response of our combined frequency up-converter / piezo-floating-gate sensing system can be used for self-powered measurement and recording of quasi-static deformations levels. The experimental results demonstrate that a sensor fabricated in a 0.5-μm CMOS technology can count and record the number of quasi-static input events, while operating at a power level significantly lower than 1μW.

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