A wireless energy generator creates electric power with the motion around it, including waves from water or motion from hands. The technique is called triboelectricity and is being worked on by a team from the University of Clemson in the US.
|Wireless energy source generates electricity from simple motions such as waves, clapping hands|
Researchers from Clemson’s Nanomaterials Institute (CNI) are one step closer to wirelessly powering the world using triboelectricity — a green energy source.
In March 2017, a group of physicists at CNI invented the ultra-simple triboelectric nanogenerator, or U-TENG — a small device made simply of plastic and tape that generates electricity from motion and vibrations. When the two materials are brought together — through clapping your hands or tapping your feet, for example — a voltage is generated that is detected by a wired, external circuit. Electrical energy, by way of the circuit, is then stored in a capacitor or a battery until it’s needed.
Nine months later, in a paper published in the journal Advanced Energy Materials, the researchers have uncovered a wireless version of TENG, called the W-TENG, which greatly expands the applications of the technology.
The W-TENG was engineered under the same premise as the U-TENG, using materials that are so opposite in affinity for electrons that they generate a voltage when brought in contact with each other.
In the W-TENG, plastic was swapped for a multipart fiber made of graphene — a single layer of graphite, or pencil lead — and a biodegradable polymer known as poly-lactic acid (PLA). PLA, on its own, is great for separating positive and negative charges, but not so great at conducting electricity — which is why the researchers paired it with graphene. Kapton tape, the electron-grabbing material of the U-TENG — was replaced with Teflon, a compound known for coating nonstick cooking pans.
“We use Teflon because it has a lot of fluorine groups that are highly electronegative, whereas the graphene-PLA is highly electropositive. That’s a good way to juxtapose and create high voltages,” said Ramakrishna Podila, corresponding author of the study and an assistant professor of physics at Clemson.
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