In the operation of many common devices and processes, more than 60% of consumed energy is wasted in many common processes. These loses come in many forms including heat, friction, and vibration. Energy harvesters are devices that can recapture some of this waste energy and convert it into electrical energy. This work will focus on electrostatic energy harvesting devices that recapture vibrational energy. Electrostatic energy harvesters recapture mechanical energy when a conductive mass translates or deforms in an electric field. Polymer ionic liquid gel beads may serve as a useful replacement for fluid droplets in electrostatic energy harvesters.

This work uses a recently developed method for reliable synthesis of polymer gel beads. These beads are synthesized using a micro-reactor, which generates monomeric droplets in a silicon oil carrier fluid. The monomer solution also contains a photoinitiator and cross linker, which enables the monomer to polymerize when exposed to UV light. The present work demonstrates a method to rapidly synthesize uniform beads with a variety of chemical compositions. These chemical compositions can be used to tune the electromechanical properties of the beads to improve performance in applications such as energy harvesting devices.

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