Techniques for wireless energy harvesting (WEH) are emerging as a fascinating set of solutions to extend the lifetime of energy-constrained wireless networks, and are commonly regarded as a key functional technique for almost perpetual communications. For example, with WEH technology, wireless devices are able to harvest energy from different light sources or Radio Frequency (RF) signals broadcast by ambient or dedicated wireless transmitters to support their operation and communications capabilities. WEH technology will have increasingly wider range of use in upcoming applications such as wireless sensor networks, Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communications, and the Internet of Things. In this paper, the usability and fundamental limits of joint RF and solar cell or photovoltaic harvesting based M2M communication systems are studied and presented. The derived theoretical bounds are in essence based on the Shannon capacity theorem, combined with selected propagation loss models, assumed additional link nonidealities, diversity processing, as well as the given energy harvesting and storage capabilities. Fundamental performance limits and available capacity of the communicating link are derived and analyzed, together with extensive numerical results evaluated in different practical scenarios, including realistic implementation losses and state-of-the-art printed supercapacitor performance figures with voltage doubler-based voltage regulator. In particular, low power sensor type communication applications using passive and semi-passive wake-up radio (WuR) are addressed in the study. The presented analysis principles and results establish clear feasibility regions and performance bounds for wireless energy harvesting based low rate M2M communications in the future IoT networks.
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