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Neighbor discovery in energy harvesting wireless sensor networks


These file attachments have been under embargo and were made available to the public after the embargo was lifted on 4 October 2012.

Author: Devasenapathy, S.
Mentor: Prasad, R.V.
Faculty:Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science
Department:Electrical Engineering
Type:Master thesis
Embargo lifted:2012-10-04
Keywords: energy harvesting · neighbor discovery
Rights: (c) 2012 Devasenapathy, S.


Homes, offices and vehicles are getting networked. This will enable context aware, autonomous operation of many support systems that could be controlled remotely. To achieve this there would be a large number of tiny devices -- sensors and actuators -- which are networked and they are termed generally as Internet of Things (IoT) devices. In future, they will be powered through harvested energy from the ambience to enable perennial lifetime and minimal manual maintenance. Some examples of energy sources are photovoltaic panels and piezoelectric crystals. Several challenges arise due to the nature of sources of energy. One of these challenges is that the devices (nodes) leave and re-enter networks due to fluctuating availability of harvested energy. This energy condition requires the adaptation of special means at every layer of the communication model. For example, as a result of fluctuating energy levels, the neighbor table maintained at each node changes quite often leading to complications in forming and maintaining routes. In fact initial neighbor discovery (ND) itself is a difficult task. Further, usage of directional antennas would affect the time taken to complete ND. Given the spatio-temporal variations in energy availability in harvesting environments, there are benefits of energy prediction. With the help of prediction, resource allocation within a single system and splitting of tasks between nodes in a network would be enhanced.

In order to identify the various parameters that affect ND we first describe a generic analytical model of an energy harvesting device. Next, we study a network of these devices through exhaustive simulation study considering these various parameters. We demonstrate the benefits and challenges of using directional antennas for ND. We present a scheme that nodes could use to discover their neighbors during initial deployment and another scheme that could be used for subsequent discovery on re-entry into the network. We show that a dedicated ND protocol is necessary for energy harvesting networks and that directional ND is beneficial in these networks under some circumstances. Finally, we present light-weight energy prediction solutions that can be used to improve the performance of the ND process in particular.

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