There are many forms of energy around us: light, heat, vibrations, wind, electromagnetic fields, fluid flow, waves, organic waste, etc. At large scale, many of these energy sources already play a significant role in powering our society and are projected to become dominant contributors by 2040. On the smaller scale, exciting scientific and engineering challenges must be overcome to harness these energy sources. Success in developing devices that cost-effectively convert these very small magnitudes of energy into electricity will lead to massive infrastructural changes ranging from buildings to transportation to communication. In this talk, I will provide a brief summary on the progress made in developing these small scale devices and discuss the potential for hybrid systems that combine living and artificial components to capture environmental energy.

As we begin the New Year we’ll take a moment to celebrate some recent accomplishments and look towards the future: winners of the 2017 Rustum and Della Roy Awards will be announced, new faculty will be highlighted, and I’ll provide an update on some MRI strategic initiatives.

Harl Tolbert | Office of Technology Management

I will discuss the role patents play in research, development, technology and the economy—including the differing views specific fields of research and industry have on the value of patents. The role of patenting at academic institutions will also be discussed. We will examine the ways that patents have enhanced innovation, and how they sometimes are thought to impede collaboration and new discoveries.

Lithium ion batteries are energy-storage devices that deliver power on demand. In this talk I will introduce new strategies to use the electrochemical cells within lithium ion batteries to harvest mechanical energies, thereby filling the gap of highly efficient mechanical energy harvesters at the low-frequency paradigm.