Autonomous Sensing Nodes for IoT Applications


The present doctoral thesis fits into the energy harvesting framework, presenting the development of low-power nodes compliant with the energy autonomy requirement, and sharing common technologies and architectures, but based on different energy sources and sensing mechanisms. The adopted approach is aimed at evaluating multiple aspects of the system in its entirety (i.e., the energy harvesting mechanism, the choice of the harvester, the study of the sensing process, the selection of the electronic devices for processing, acquisition and measurement, the electronic design, the microcontroller unit (MCU) programming techniques), accounting for very challenging constraints as the low amounts of harvested power (i.e., [μW, mW] range), the careful management of the available energy, the coexistence of sensing and radio transmitting features with ultra-low power requirements. Commercial sensors are mainly used to meet the cost-effectiveness and the large-scale reproducibility requirements, however also customized sensors for a specific application (soil moisture measurement), together with appropriate characterization and reading circuits, are also presented. Two different strategies have been pursued which led to the development of two types of sensor nodes, which are referred to as 'sensor tags' and 'self-sufficient sensor nodes'. The first term refers to completely passive sensor nodes without an on-board battery as storage element and which operate only in the presence of the energy source, provisioning energy from it. In this thesis, an RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) sensor tag for soil moisture monitoring powered by the impinging electromagnetic field is presented. The second term identifies sensor nodes equipped with a battery rechargeable through energy scavenging and working as a secondary reserve in case of absence of the primary energy source. In this thesis, quasi-real-time multi-purpose monitoring LoRaWAN nodes harvesting energy from thermoelectricity, diffused solar light, indoor white light, and artificial colored light are presented

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