Research in Energy Harvesting Wireless Sensor Networks and the Challenges Ahead

  • Winston K. G. Seah
  • Y. K. Tan
  • Alvin T. S. Chan
Part of the Springer Series on Chemical Sensors and Biosensors book series (SSSENSORS, volume 13)


Wireless sensor networks (WSNs) are set to form a significant part of the new pervasive Internet, often referred to as the Internet of Things. WSNs have traditionally been powered by limited energy sources, viz. batteries, limiting their operational lifetime. To ensure the sustainability of WSNs, researchers have turned to alternative energy sources for power. Harvesting ambient energy from the environment to power WSNs is a promising approach, but it is currently unable to provide a sustained energy supply to support continuous operation. Sensor nodes therefore need to exploit the sporadic availability of energy to quickly sense and transmit the data. We first review the recent developments in energy harvesting technology and research on networking protocol design for WSNs powered by ambient energy harvesting. Then, we discuss some of the challenges faced by researchers in designing networking protocols and summarize the open research problems.


Energy harvesting/scavenging Protocol design Wireless sensor network 



Central processing unit


Carrier sense multiple access


Energy harvesting


Energy harvesting opportunistic routing


Energy synchronized communication


Lead zirconate titanate


Medium access control


Mega joules


Multi-tier probabilistic polling


Probabilistic retransmission protocol




Reinforcement learning


Wireless sensor networks powered by ambient energy harvesting


Wireless sensor networks


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Winston K. G. Seah
    • 1
  • Y. K. Tan
    • 2
  • Alvin T. S. Chan
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Engineering and Computer ScienceVictoria University of WellingtonWellingtonNew Zealand
  2. 2.Energy Research Institute @ Nanyang Technological University (ERI@N), Research Techno PlazaSingaporeSingapore
  3. 3.The Hong Kong Polytechnic UniversityHung HomHong Kong

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