Piezoelectric Sensing and Energy Harvesting in Touchscreens


Gemstone Honors Program



Team Piezo investigated the increasing demands on smartphone batteries by developing a touchscreen prototype that integrates piezoelectric materials to sense touch location and generate energy for the battery. The touchscreen prototype uses a piezoelectric element with patterned electrodes that extract a current when touched. A circuit with an Arduino microcontroller successfully senses the location of the activated piezoelectric sections. The team designed several prototypes and conducted testing to evaluate performance and electrical response. Methods of extracting and storing energy were investigated, however storage was not successful enough to integrate into the prototype. Phone usage data was collected with surveys and was compared to power output of the touchscreen system to determine the theoretical amount of retrievable energy for future development.
The University of Maryland Sustainability Fund was instrumental to the research conducted by Team Piezo. The prototypes the team produced used piezoelectric elements and a variety of circuit components. The team would not have been able to acquire these components without the financial support of the Sustainability Fund. Additionally, the team was able to purchase a variety of materials and equipment that were used to build and test the prototypes. Laboratory procedures necessary to enhance the piezoelectric elements were also possible due to the support of the Sustainability Fund.