Energy Harvesting

Energy harvesting provides small amounts of energy to power low-energy electronics. The energy is harvested from the environment of the device, e.g. from solar power, thermal energy, or kinetic energy.

In this article, we want to find out which research organizations are working on which kind of method for energy harvesting, and what investors are active in this field of technology.

Research organizations and technologies

First, we search for “energy harvesting” OR “power harvesting” OR “energy scavenging” and use the “R&D organizations” shortcut (cf. blue arrow in the upper left).  This shows us a tag cloud with the most active research organizations relevant to our query.


To find out what energy harvesting technologies these research organizations are working on, we add another filter:

  • piezoelectric*
  • pyroelectric*
  • photovoltaic
  • thermoelectric*
  • electrostatic
  • magnetic*
  • metamaterial*
  • biomechanical*
  • “electroactive polymer”
  • nanogenerator*

So we now search for energy harvesting AND at least one of the terms in this list.

We then open the heatmap matrix (“Open matrix” in the screenshot above, cf. blue arrow in the lower right) to see correlations between research organizations and our list of technologies above:



This suggests that the University of Michigan covers the widest spectrum of technologies (they have the most technologies highlighted in the matrix).  On the other hand, the matrix also suggests that Cornell University so far seems to be the only one working on electroactive polymers.

On another note, it is also interesting to see how the research organizations in this space are distributed geographically.  With all the talk about “Energiewende” (German energy transition,, one might expect German universities to play a bigger role here (at least this is what we expected).  However, we do not see a single German university in our matrix above.


We then broadened our search again to include energy harvesting in general, and looked for investors (focusing on the time span from January 2014 until now).  In order to do this, we simply switched the tag cloud to “investors” and chose a time graph as our visualization:


The most active investor here (i.e. the investor with the most investment events over time) seems to be the US Department of Energy (and not the European Union, for example — did we mention “Energiewende” before?).