May, 2022 - By SMI
Newly created tiny sensors are inspired by dandelion seeds dispersed by the wind and use solar panels for powering in the place of batteries
Recent studies are focusing on miniaturization of electronics to create significantly small sensors for tracking humidity or temperature. Now, researchers at University of Washington developed new tiny sensor platforms that are compact and lightweight enough to be dispersed similar to dandelion seeds floating in the wind to create wide networks by themselves.
The researchers at the University of Washington found efficient way to build technologies and they started with designing these novel sensor platforms inspired by dispersion of dandelions seeds through the wind. The team created 75 designs that were modeled on these seeds before the team came to the final design. The team avoided use of heavy batteries for small solar panels that powered the electronics onboard. These electronics included a capacitor for storing a charge when there is no sunlight and to start the sensors back again the following morning. Even though the team did not use battery for the sensors to keep it lightweight, it weighs 30 times heavier compared to a one-milligram dandelion seed.
Furthermore, through the experiments it was found that these new sensor platforms are light enough. However, in order for them to travel long distances in an average wind they are required to be dropped by a drone. These tiny sensor platforms comprise four sensors to measure light, pressure, humidity, and temperature and can collect the data from 60m away. The platforms landed facing upwards 95% of the time. The design still needs some more work and the team is working on improving the initial design to make it biodegradable in order to prevent environmental issues such as spreading electronic waste in the environment.
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