Nick Chen ’20


Mechanical Engineering

Project Title

 Helmholtz Resonators for Energy Harvesting- Princeton, New Jersey

My project focused on generating electricity using Helmholtz resonance, which occurs when air flows over the opening of a container. This can result in powerful pressure fluctuations, and often produces an audible tone, such as when air blows across the opening of a bottle. I worked to improve the design of a prototype that combines Helmholtz resonance with piezoelectric elements — which produce an electric charge from mechanical stress such as vibration — to convert sound energy into electricity. Previous designs have only worked when compressed air is pumped directly over the opening of the resonator. I was tasked with altering this device to work in natural wind conditions. Through extensive observation and testing, and after building multiple prototypes, I successfully created an omnidirectional top insert for the resonator, allowing it to generate power in natural wind. My internship gave me the opportunity to create a successful device through research, design and analysis. This process broadened my understanding of how deeply connected creativity and technical understanding are to engineering and research.

Internship Year


Project Category

Alternative Energy


Smits Fluid Mechanics Lab, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Princeton University


 Alexander Smits, Eugene Higgins Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Emeritus; Daniel Floryan, Ph.D. candidate, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering; Tyler Van Buren, Lab Manager, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering