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Rubbing materials to power small devices

If you ever asked yourself why rubbing a balloon on your head makes your hair stand up, the reason is electrical; it is because of static electricity, an effect known for thousands of years but needs to be avoided in many electronics appliances. But static electricity can be useful to generate energy with the help of a triboelectric nanogenerator (TENG).

If you ever asked yourself why rubbing a balloon on your head makes your hair stand up, the reason is electrical; it is because of static electricity, an effect known for thousands of years but needs to be avoided  in many electronics appliances. But static electricity can be useful to generate energy with the help of a triboelectric nanogenerator (TENG). 

TENG is a device that converts mechanical energy into electricity using the coupling effects between two different materials. Using static electricity, TENG devices could collect random small scale ambient mechanical energy, such as those stored in human motions, wind driven vibrations or water surface fluctuations and turn it into electricity. The electricity produced using TENG can be used to power different sensors such as those in vehicles or clothes or even small devices such as pacemakers, which are currently powered by expensive or inconvenient batteries.

What is exciting is that there is not limitation on material selection. TENG device can generate energy from every single material around us including natural and organic materials. This makes them convenient for wide range of applications in different settings and environments.  

Our current research is trying to develop nano-structured polymeric materials to improve the energy harvesting efficiency. We will use them used them as static electricity driven nanogenerators to power small devices.

Yeonsik Choi

NanoDTC PhD Associate 2016

Device Materials Group
Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy

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