This study is at attempt to explore the nonlinear behavior of bistable composite laminates for vibration energy harvesting. Asymmetric four-ply [0/90/0/90] carbon-fiber plate with two cylindrical stable equilibria supported at its center and free at all boundaries is used for the experimental testing. Macro-fiber composite (MFC) patches are attached to the plate to transform the mechanical vibration energy into electrical energy. The mechanical bistable property of the plate makes it possible to snap from one stable equilibrium state to the other. This snapthrough motion is highly nonlinear and associated with large-amplitude vibrations. The experimental tests aim at exploiting the nonlinearity due to the snapthrough motion to enhance the energy extraction. First, the resonant frequencies and damping of the plate are identified. A primary-resonance excitations of the first mode are carried out using two schemes: amplitude sweep and frequency sweep. In the first case, amplitude sweep, the excitation frequency is kept fixed at the resonant frequency and the amplitude of excitation is increased. The time history and FFT of the response as well as the output voltage are measured and reported. In the second case, frequency sweep, the excitation frequency is varied around the resonant frequency while the excitation amplitude is kept fixed. In both cases, the response shows a small-amplitude single-well vibrations at low excitation amplitudes and chaotic and periodic snapthrough motion as the amplitude and frequency of excitation are varied. The snapthrough motion has been found to greatly enhance the energy extraction capability. This study can serve as a motive for more testing and modeling efforts in order to understand the complex nonlinear behavior of bistable composite laminates and exploit it for vibration energy harvesting.

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