We investigate the potential of harvesting vibration energy via a bi-stable beam subjected to subharmonic parametric excitations. The vibrating structure is a buckled beam with two stable equilibria separated by a potential barrier. The beam is subjected to a superposition of a static axial load beyond its critical buckling load and a harmonic axial excitation which frequency is around twice the frequency of the first vibration mode. A micro-fiber composite (MFC) is attached to one side of the beam to convert the strain energy resulting from the beams oscillation into electricity. The study considers two regimes of excitations: an amplitude sweep and a frequency sweep. In the first regime, the amplitude of excitation is varied while the excitation frequency is tuned at twice the natural frequency of the first vibration mode. In the second regime, the excitation frequency is swept forward and backward around the subharmonic resonant frequency while the amplitude of excitation is kept constant. A theoretical model which governs the electromechanical coupling of the transverse vibrations of the beam and the output voltage is used to monitor the response as the excitation parameters are changed. An experimental setup is built and a series of tests is performed. The theoretical results are in good agreement with their experimental counterparts. The experiment also shows that this type of bi-stable energy harvesters exhibits a broadband frequency response as compared to the classical linear harvesters.

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