Wireless power transfer and energy harvesting in distributed sensor networks: Survey, opportunities, and challenges

Gerald K. Ijemaru, Kenneth Li Minn Ang*, Jasmine K.P. Seng

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Distributed sensor networks have emerged as part of the advancements in sensing and wireless technologies and currently support several applications, including continuous environmental monitoring, surveillance, tracking, and so on which are running in wireless sensor network environments, and large-scale wireless sensor network multimedia applications that require large amounts of data transmission to an access point. However, these applications are often hampered because sensor nodes are energy-constrained, low-powered, with limited operational lifetime and low processing and limited power-storage capabilities. Current research shows that sensors deployed for distributed sensor network applications are low-power and low-cost devices characterized with multifunctional abilities. This contributes to their quick battery drainage, if they are to operate for long time durations. Owing to the associated cost implications and mode of deployments of the sensor nodes, battery recharging/replacements have significant disadvantages. Energy harvesting and wireless power transfer have therefore become very critical for applications running for longer time durations. This survey focuses on presenting a comprehensive review of the current literature on several wireless power transfer and energy harvesting technologies and highlights their opportunities and challenges in distributed sensor networks. This review highlights updated studies which are specific to wireless power transfer and energy harvesting technologies, including their opportunities, potential applications, limitations and challenges, classifications and comparisons. The final section presents some practical considerations and real-time implementation of a radio frequency–based energy harvesting wireless power transfer technique using Powercast™ power harvesters, and performance analysis of the two radio frequency–based power harvesters is discussed. Experimental results show both short-range and long-range applications of the two radio frequency–based energy harvesters with high power transfer efficiency.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Distributed Sensor Networks
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022


  • Internet of Things
  • Powercast energy harvesters
  • distributed sensor networks
  • energy harvesting
  • radio frequency
  • wireless power transfer
  • wireless sensor networks


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