Towards Flexible Self-powered Micro-scale Integrated Systems

  • Jhonathan Prieto Rojas

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Today’s information-centered world leads the ever-increasing consumer demand for more powerful, multifunctional portable devices. Additionally, recent developments on long-lasting energy sources and compliant, flexible systems, have introduced new required features to the portable devices industry. For example, wireless sensor networks are in urgent need of self-sustainable, easy-to-deploy, mobile platforms, wirelessly interconnected and accessible through a cloud computing system. The objective of my doctoral work is to develop integration strategies to effectively fabricate mechanically flexible, energy-independent systems, which could empower sensor networks for a great variety of new exciting applications. The first module, flexible electronics, can be achieved through several techniques and materials. Our main focus is to bring mechanical flexibility to the state-of-the-art high performing silicon-based electronics, with billions of ultra-low power, nano-sized transistors. Therefore, we have developed a low-cost batch fabrication process to transform standard, rigid, mono-crystalline silicon (100) wafer with devices, into a thin (5-20 m), mechanically flexible, optically semi-transparent silicon fabric. Recycling of the remaining wafer is possible, enabling generation of multiple fabrics to ensure lowcost and optimal utilization of the whole substrate. We have shown mono, amorphous and poly-crystalline silicon and silicon dioxide fabrics, featuring industry’s most advanced high-/metal-gate based capacitors and transistors. The second module consists on the development of efficient energy scavenging systems. First, we have identified an innovative and relatively young technology, which can address at the same time two of the main concerns of human kind: water and energy. Microbial fuel cells (MFC) are capable of producing energy out the metabolism of bacteria while treating wastewater. We have developed two micro-liter MFC designs, one with carbon nanotubes (CNT)-based anode and the second with a more sustainable design and easy to implement. Power production ranges from 392 to 100 mW/m3 depending on design. Additionally we have explored a flexible thermoelectric generator (0.139 μW/cm2) and a lithium-ion battery (~800 μAh/m2) for back-up energy generation and storage. Future work includes the implementation of a self-powered System-on-Package which gathers together energy generation, storage and consumption. Additionally we are working to demonstrate Complementary Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor (CMOS) circuitry on our flexible platform, as well as memory systems.
Date of AwardApr 2014
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Computer, Electrical and Mathematical Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorMuhammad Mustafa Hussain (Supervisor)


  • Flexible Electronics
  • Semitransparent
  • Recyclability
  • Self-Powered
  • Microbial Fuel Cell
  • lithium ion battery

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