Surface Bioengineering on a Triboelectric Nanogenerator (TENG) Device
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Using biocompatible materials to develop inexpensive, self-powered devices is significant for novel clinical applications. Here we report the engineering optimization on a set of self-powering triboelectric nanogenerator (TENG) devices. These thin, film-based devices are made from a solution of alginate, a biocompatible polysaccharide derived from seaweed, and glycerol, a plasticizer which makes the films stronger and more ductile. This TENG device converts otherwise wasted mechanical energy to electricity through the triboelectric effect, which harnesses the friction energy produced from the contact electrification between two different materials. The TENG consists of two nodes on a linear motor, and produce electricity when one node contacts and then separates from the other node. Both nodes have a base of Polymethyl methacrylate, underneath a layer of aluminum (the conductive layer). Then, one node is covered with a layer of Polytetrafluoroethylene polymer, and the other, with the biopolymer film. We optimized critical parameters such as the separation distance between the two TENG nodes, and the glycerol concentration(s) that enable the TENGs to generate the highest outputs of voltage, current, and amount of electric charge (V, I, Q). The TENG device without glycerol generated the highest voltage output, but showed unwanted brittleness, while the lowest glycerol concentration showed a small decrease in voltage but greatly increased durability. This trend suggests an optimal window for the device-fabrication parameters between the decreasing voltage output and the increasing glycerol amount. We have also identified the ideal separation distance between the two TENG nodes which generates the highest electrical outputs. Thus, an optimized biopolymer-TENG device from this systematic engineering study could self-power a wide range of medical devices.