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MIT Discovers Underwater Battery-free Sensor for Exploration

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Published on : Aug 22, 2019

Researchers at MIT have discovered a battery-free sensor which works under water to explore the vast oceans, and transfer data to the surface. This is also being called under water Internet of Things.

Scientists have developed an underwater communication system which utilizes negligible power to transfer data. The system is designed to monitor change in weather, and study marine life over the long duration. It also can study the water samples on distant planets. The sensor is being presented in the paper at Association for Computing Machinery's Special Interest Group on Data Communications, which has received an award for “best paper” in the past.

Backscatter and Piezoelectric Effect are the Main Phenomenons Used

The underwater non-battery sensors utilize two major phenomenon: First is backscatter.  It is a communication method that is generally utilized for RFID tags which transmit information by reflection of modulated wireless waves from a tag to reader back and forth. The other is piezoelectric effect. This phenomenon takes place with the vibrations generated from certain materials are used to produce electric charges.

The researchers working on the sensors presented Piezo-Acoustic Backscatter System in their MIT pool. This demonstrated the tasks like pressure measurement and collect fluctuating water temperature based on the surroundings. The system successfully gave a output of 3kilobyte of accurate data transmission from two sensors at once. The sensors were placed 10 meters away from each other and the receiver.

However, the applications of these under water sensors are not just limited, but goes far beyond our own planet. The co-author of the study, Fadel Adib said that, these sensors can be utilized to collect information from the newly discovered subsurface ocean, found on Titan, the largest moon on Saturn. NASA, in June this year had announced the launch of a rover in 2026, which would explore moon, collecting water samples from different sites.