In this paper, a high performance micro piezoelectric energy harvester (PEH) fabricated on stainless substrates is presented. A PZT piezoelectric active layer with a thickness of about 10 μm was deposited on a stainless steel substrate by the aerosol deposition method. The cantilever beam-shaped PEH was then fabricated by metal-MEMS processing of the PZT/stainless steel composite structure. The size of the cantilever PEH transducer developed was about 1 cm2 and a proof mass was attached to tune its resonant frequency to around 120 Hz for harvesting mechanical vibrations from direct drive AC motors. The PEH transducer showed an output voltage and an output power of 8.9 Vp-p and 107.8 μW, respectively, when connected with optimal load and excited under 0.5 g acceleration level. In order to realize the fatigue behavior and reliability of the PEH in field applications, the PEH transducer was driven at its own resonant frequency and tested under 1.0 g acceleration level for millions of cycles and the vibration modes were measured with a laser scanning vibrometer. The PEH transducer had an operating lifetime of about 1.8 million cycles at 1.0 g cyclic loading based on the shift of its resonant frequencies and the decrease in electrical output. The experimental results show the resonant frequencies of the first, second and third modes were all shifted to lower frequencies with increasing operation cycle number due to the development of microcracks in the ceramic PZT active layer. However, the same PEH transducer could survive millions of cycles (in the high millions) at 0.5 g cyclic loading without any significant changes in the resonant frequencies and electrical output. The results confirm the operating limits of the PEH transducer and suggest further protection and reinforcement are required for the transducer to operate at high acceleration loadings.

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