Piezoelectric Nanogenerators for Self-Powered Nanodevices
Wang, Z. L. (Zhong Lin)
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Although nanodevices fabricated using nanomaterials such as nanotubes or nanowires offer low power consumption, powering them can still be challenging. Adding a battery could sufficiently increase their size to inhibit their application. Developing miniature power packages and self-powering methods will be key to their use in a variety of applications, including those for wireless sensing; in-vivo, real-time, and implantable biological devices; environmental monitoring; and personal electronics. Consequently, researchers are developing innovative nanotechnologies to convert various forms of energy (such as solar energy) into electric energy for low-power nanodevices. In our own work, we’ve used piezoelectric zinc-oxide nanowire (ZnO NW) arrays to demonstrate a novel approach for converting nanoscale mechanical energy into electric energy. Here, we review the fundamental principle behind the nanogenerator, present an approach for improving its performance, and discuss some of the challenges we face in pushing this technology to reach its potential.