Nanogenerators for self-powered applications
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We are surrounded by enormous amounts of ambient mechanical energy that goes to waste such as rain drops, human footfalls, air flow, ocean waves, just to name a few. If such otherwise wasted mechanical energy can be effective converted into electricity, self-powered electronics are very likely to be realized, which can address the limitations of traditional power supplies in many cases, such as wireless sensor networks. Here in this work, two types of energy-harvesting nanogenerators (NGs) based were studied. For piezoelectric nanogenerators, zinc oxide (ZnO) nanowires (NWs) were used as building blocks to develop integrated NGs based on a number of ZnO NWs instead of a single NW. Two types of integrated NGs were developed, which consist of lateral NW arrays and vertical NW arrays. The electric output power was substantially enhanced compared to the design with a single NW. For triboelectric nanogenerators, triboelectric effect was innovatively used as an effective means of harvesting mechanical energy. The operating principle can be explained by the coupling between triboelectric and electrostatic effect. Two types of operating modes were invented, i.e. contact mode and sliding mode. Triggered by commonly available ambient mechanical energy such as footfalls, the maximum output power reached up to 1.2 W. More importantly, self-powered systems were built by using the NG as a power source. It can provide real time power for up to 600 commercial LED bulbs. This research not only provides the fundamentals for NGs but also demonstrates the practicability of using the self-powered technology in our daily life.