Feasibility of Ambient RF Energy Harvesting for Self-Sustainable M2M Communications Using Transparent and Flexible Graphene Antennas
Journal article, 2016
Lifetime is a critical parameter in ubiquitous, battery-operated sensors for machine-to-machine (M2M) communication systems, an emerging part of the future Internet of Things. In this practical article, the performance of radio frequency (RF) to DC energy converters using transparent and flexible rectennas based on graphene in an ambient RF energyharvesting scenario is evaluated. Full-wave EM simulations of a dipole antenna assuming the reported state-of-the-art sheet resistance for few-layer, transparent graphene yields an estimated ohmic efficiency of 5 %. In the power budget calculation, the low efficiency of transparent graphene antennas is an issue because of the relatively low amount of available ambient RF energy in the frequency bands of interest, which together sets an upper limit on the harvested energy available for the RF-powered device. Using a commercial diode rectifier and an off-the-shelf wireless system for sensor communication, the graphene-based solution provides only a limited battery lifetime extension. However, for ultra-low-power technologies currently at the research stage, more advantageous ambient energy levels, or other use cases with infrequent data transmission, graphene-based solutions may be more feasible.