This program has significant application to the current NASA mission. This proposal targets many of the technical challenges outlined in the NASA Space Power and Energy Storage roadmap. All of the technologies which support the Outer Planetary and Inner Planetary missions as well as the Space Operations Mission directorate require new methods of power and energy storage. The technology proposed here would not only harvest energy from the ambient environment facilitating a reduction in dependence on primary power sources, but also provide storage capabilities. The small MEMS footprint of the device allows for further weight reduction and ease of integration into space systems where weight and size are at a premium. Multiple types of energy harvesting technologies integrated together provide a broader application base for the device once it is developed. These benefits are applicable to spacecraft, data collection, tools, computers, and anything which requires power and energy storage.
This program has commercial applications in addition to those which benefit the current NASA mission. Energy and power are at the forefront of every discussion related to advancing microelectronics and systems. Additionally monitoring the health of electronic and mechanical systems has proven to be an emerging need across many military and commercial systems alike. Embedding sensors and systems which can provide this capability requires primary storage if the system is operated remotely. This causes problems when long term monitoring is needed and the system does not have access to recharging or battery replacement. Harvesting energy from the ambient environment would allow for less dependence on primary batteries and help decrease the weight and footprint of these systems. This would allow for broader use and application of these monitoring systems across a variety of platforms.