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November 20, 2012

Nanogenerator can convert 15% of mechanical motion with potential for 40%

A Georgia Tech nanogenerator can convert 10 to 15 percent of the energy in mechanical motions into electricity, and thinner materials should be able to convert as much as 40 percent, Wang says. A fingernail-sized square of the triboelectric nanomaterial can produce eight milliwatts when flexed, enough power to run a pacemaker. A patch that’s five by five centimeters can light up 600 LEDs at once, or charge a lithium-ion battery that can charge a commercial cellphone.

It can be made from inexpensive materials.


Nanoletters - Nanoscale Triboelectric-Effect-Enabled Energy Conversion for Sustainably Powering Portable Electronics


ABSTRACT - Harvesting energy from our living environment is an effective approach for sustainable, maintenance-free, and green power source for wireless, portable, or implanted electronics. Mechanical energy scavenging based on triboelectric effect has been proven to be simple, cost-effective, and robust. However, its output is still insufficient for sustainably driving electronic devices/systems. Here, we demonstrated a rationally designed arch-shaped triboelectric nanogenerator (TENG) by utilizing the contact electrification between a polymer thin film and a metal thin foil. The working mechanism of the TENG was studied by finite element simulation. The output voltage, current density, and energy volume density reached 230 V, 15.5 μA/cm2, and 128 mW/cm3, respectively, and an energy conversion efficiency as high as 10–39% has been demonstrated. The TENG was systematically studied and demonstrated as a sustainable power source that can not only drive instantaneous operation of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) but also charge a lithium ion battery as a regulated power module for powering a wireless sensor system and a commercial cell phone, which is the first demonstration of the nanogenerator for driving personal mobile electronics, opening the chapter of impacting general people’s life by nanogenerators.

21 pages of supplemental information

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