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The applied voltage causes the piezoelectric layer 34 (FIG. At the end of the compression process, the electrical switch is opened whereby the piezoelectric layer 34 becomes a capacitor, storing any charge accumulated on the electrodes during the time the voltage was applied. At the end of the compression process, the electrical switch is opened whereby piezoelectric layer 34 becomes a capacitor that stores any charge accumulated on the electrodes 28 and 36 during the time period in which the voltage was applied. Micro-sensors that utilize piezoelectric films also have been used for mechanical to electrical transduction, however, such devices are not capable of producing usable electrical power to any significant degree. Unlike conventional large-scale heat pumps, vapor compression and adsorption machines, which utilize a throttling valve to expand the working fluid in an isenthalpic process, without producing any work, the micro-heat pump 60 produces work during the expansion process in the form of an electric current flowing from the electrodes 28, 36. By extracting work, the micro-heat pump 60 provides for the expansion of the working fluid 6 in a substantially isentropic process, which is significant for two reasons.

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Lights FIG. 3 shows an enlarged cross-sectional view of a piezoelectric micro-heat pump having the same general construction of the micro-transducer of FIG. FIGS. 16A-16B are cross-sectional views of piezoelectric micro-transducer according to another embodiment configured for use as a micro-internal combustion engine. 1 shows an enlarged cross-sectional view of a piezoelectric micro-transducer according to one embodiment of the present invention. As with the heat engine 42, the first membrane 18 of the heat pump 60 completes one full oscillation during the cycle. During the second process, high-temperature heat-rejection, the high-temperature heat sink 64 is thermally coupled to second membrane 16 via thermal switches 68 to remove thermal energy from the heat pump 60 through conduction. 1, shown operating between a low-temperature heat source and a high-temperature heat sink. 20129779.doc 25/01/05 WO 02/084754 PCT/US01/51613 During the working cycle of the heat pump 60, low-temperature thermal energy is transferred into the heat pump 60 from the low-temperature heat source 62 by conduction.

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Micro-Heat Engine FIGS. 2A-2D illustrate the thermodynamic cycle of a heat engine 42 according to a one embodiment operating between a high-temperature heat source 44 and a low-temperature heat sink 46. In the illustrated embodiment, the high-temperature heat source 44 has thermal switches, or contacts, 48 operable to periodically thermally couple the first membrane 18 with the high-temperature heat source 44. Similarly, the low-temperature heat sink 46 has thermal switches, or contacts, 50 operable to periodically thermally couple the second membrane 16 with the low-temperature heat sink 46. The thermodynamic cycle of the heat engine 42, which is based on the Camot vapor cycle, consists of the following four processes: compression, high-temperature heat-addition, expansion and electrical power production, and low- WO 02/084754 PCT/US01/51613 temperature heat-rejection. Example In one example of a micro-heat engine 42, the first membrane 18 has a thickness of about 2 microns, the second membrane 16 has a thickness of about 5 microns, and the thickness of the engine cavity is about 25 microns.