Mr Patrin Kurt Illenberger
After emigrating from South Africa in 2011, Patrin began his Bachelors of Engineering specialising in Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the University of Auckland. After completing his BE, Patrin joined the ABI in January 2015 and commenced doctoral research.
Research | Current
Electronics for Artificial Muscle Energy Harvesting
Artificial muscle energy harvesters, also called dielectric elastomer generators (DEG), can convert mechanical energy from natural sources such as walking, ocean waves and moving tree branches into electrical energy.
There are two principal components in a DEG:
- a soft and rubbery dielectric elastomer and
- an electronic converter for energy management.
The role of the converter is to ‘optimally’ excite the elastomer membrane surface while harvesting maximum possible energy at the highest possible efficiency from the dielectric elastomer. Current DEG systems have demonstrated a high energy density when compared to traditional generators (electromagnetic, electrostatic). However, DEG efficiency and reliability are poor and require significant improvement.
This project aims to develop an efficient, reliable and fully soft DEG system that can be used in soft robotic applications and personal energy harvesting. Development of such a system is currently hampered by the limitations of standard off-the-shelf electronics not only from an electrical perspective but also from a material perspective. The elastomer generator materials are very soft and compliant while the standard electronic components are hard and stiff. Hence an electronic power interface that is compatible with the elastomer material is vital for the overall practicality of the system.