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February 2009, ‘Patent analysis: Microscale Energy Harvesting Devices’ Quentin Tannock, CambridgeIP, and Dr Henne van Heeren, Enabling MNT.

Date: February 1, 2009

Micro-scale energy harvesting devices are small devices used to convert stray energy into electricity. Energy harvesting is regarded as an increasingly attractive and viable approach to powering a wide range of electronic devices. Reasons include environmental and energy savings and the increasing pervasiveness of miniature electronic devices, including wireless sensors and portable electronics.

The most frequently used energy sources for energy harvesting in the patent literature, together with the top patented technical approaches to microscale energy harvesting are considered and leading corporations and research centres by numbers of microscale energy harvesting patents and patent applications are identified. The report additionally considers MEMS technology and market trends generally and identifies the likely impact of these trends on the development micro-scale energy harvesting devices. MEMS features and trends discussed include growing complexity of MEMS devices, their increasing functionality and pervasiveness, a trend towards developing low power MEMS devices and improved MEMS production processes. Key growth sectors for microscale energy harvesters are identified and discussed. These include structural health monitoring, wireless sensor networks and health. Consumer electronics may be a major growth market in the medium term as more efficient consumer electronics and more effective microscale energy harvesting technologies converge.

The report will be of interest to researchers, industrialists and investors active in transport, healthcare, structural health monitoring, security, consumer electronics, CleanTech, wireless sensing and sectors where micro-scale electronic systems (MEMS) are prevalent.

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