Autonomous Wireless Sensor Nodes for Composites

Problem Definition:

Composites are a popular material choice in modern industries because they can be fabricated to be stronger, lighter and/or less expensive than traditional materials. Examples of application domains of these materials are aviation and aerospace, construction (bridges), car manufacturing (Formula 1), etc.

Due to their fabrication method it is possible to add sensors and electronics to monitor the behavior and help predict end-of-life, unexpected failure, or other dangerous situations which might lead to injury or death. Since the mechanical stability of the composites needs to be guaranteed at all times, it is very important that the integrated electronics are small and low profile. Research projects at CMST have led to the development of dedicated packaging techniques to facilitate this high level integration, such as the Ultra-Thin Chip Packaging (UTCP) technology which allows the thinning of a commercially available chip to sizes from 1 mm to 30 micrometer (Figure 1).

Further miniaturization of the sensor’s footprint requires the removal of all wiring and implementation of autonomous and energy efficient operation, and wireless communication.


 
Figure 1: Ultra Thin Chip Package (UTCP) 

 
Figure 2: Design concept of an autonomous wireless sensor node for integration in composite materials 

Objectives:

The goal of this master thesis is the design and development of a completely wireless, autonomous, energy efficient, and low profile sensor node for integration into composite materials.

A first part of the work will focus on the communication between separate nodes. Special attention will be paid to the influence of the composite materials on the communication link and antenna topologies usable for optimal performance.

A second part will focus on the autonomous operation of the sensor nodes: energy harvesting and wireless power transfer.

The designed sensor nodes will be fabricated by using the UTCP technology at CMST and thoroughly tested in terms of mechanical and electrical performance. 

Keywords:

antenna design, PCB design, energy harvesting, wireless power transfer,composite materials,sensor node, practical realisation, field tests

Location:

Ardoyen CMST + Technicum (electromagnetics group).