IoT sensor is powered by tiny water movements


UNIST harvesting water motion detectorKorean researchers have created a harvesting sensor that measures, and is powered by, vibration in water.

The prototype consists of a triboelectric generator, a super capacitor and a custom 65nm CMOS chip, connected to LEDs that indicate vibration amplitude and frequency.

UNIST harvesting water motion detector“This sensor platform is operated solely by the energy harvested from the water-motion itself. It can be used as an environmental sensor platform for continuous monitoring of the flows of water or currents, the total amount of rainfall per hour, as well as a leak or accidental spill of hazardous waste at industrial sites,” said Professor Jaehyouk Choi of UNIST, whose team worked with Korea University engineers lead by Professor Wonjoon Choi.


The chip handles harvesting, capacitor charging, water motion analysis, as well as LED control for displaying sensed information, all without hampering the mobility of sensor.

UNIST harvesting water motion detectorIn operation, oscillatory pressurisation of a water droplet between two electrodes generates electrical energy from the static charge on the surfaces of the dielectric layers (see diagram).

UNIST harvesting water motion detectorSimultaneously, the variation of oscillating electrical energy generated provides information on the frequency and amplitude of the water motion.

Output is a 6bit binary code that indicates the dynamics of the water droplet.

Support was provided by the Basic Science Research Programs through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF), funded by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Science, ICT & Future Planning.

It is published as ‘Self-sustaining water-motion sensor platform for continuous monitoring of frequency and amplitude dynamics‘ in Nano Energy.








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