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Research of electrostrictive polymers has generated new opportunities for harvesting energy from the surrounding environment and converting it into usable electrical energy. Electroactive polymer (EAP) research is one of the new opportunities for harvesting energy from the natural environment and converting it into usable electrical energy. Piezoelectric ceramic based energy harvesting devices tend to be unsuitable for low-frequency mechanical excitations such as human movement. Organic polymers are typically softer and more flexible therefore translated electrical energy output is considerably higher under the same mechanical force. In addition, cantilever geometry is one of the most used structures in piezoelectric energy harvesters, especially for mechanical energy harvesting from vibrations. In order to further lower the resonance frequency of the cantilever microstructure, a proof mass can be attached to the free end of the cantilever. Mechanical analysis of an experimental bimorph structure was provided and led to key design rules for post-processing steps to control the performance of the energy harvester. In this work, methods of materials processing and the mechanical to electrical conversion of vibrational energy into usable energy were investigated. Materials such as polyvinyledenedifluoridetetra-fluoroethylene P(VDF-TrFE) copolymer films (1um thick or less) were evaluated and presented a large relative permittivity and greater piezoelectric β-phase without stretching. Further investigations will be used to identify suitable micro-electromechanical systems (MEMs) structures given specific types of low-frequency mechanical excitations (10-100Hz).


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MRS Advances