Ultra-Light Power Electronic Interfaces for Micro-Robots

The power challenge for micro-robots stems from the fact that the most efficient micro-actuation technologies (electrostatic and piezoelectric) operate at high voltages. The output voltage of suitable energy sources including conventional chemical batteries, super-capacitors, fuel cells, and solar cells is generally less than 5V. Assuming that the typical driving voltage for electrostatic and piezoelectric actuators is at least an order of magnitude higher than the energy source, these actuators will require a power electronics interface with high step-up DC gain.

Due to the stringent size and mass requirements of micro-robotic applications, the power electronics interfaces should have ultra low weight, extremely small size, high power density and high energy efficiency. We have developed original millimeter-scale resonant power electronics interfaces capable of (a) boosting their input voltages by at least an order of magnitude; and (b) efficiently driving electrostatic, dielectric elastomer, and piezoelectric actuators for micro-robots, with very high efficiency.