Researchers have developed a flexible piezoelectric nanogenerator that transforms mechanical energy into electrical energy. The innovation is composed of a piezoelectric structure sandwiched on both sides by insulation layers and flexible electrodes. Zinc oxide (ZnO) nanowire arrays are grown on an ultrathin aluminum (Al) foil, which is used as both the electrode and the substrate and has been insulated with a polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) layer.
The device harvests mechanical energy generated by dynamic motion existing in its environment (e.g., light wind) regardless of its level of activity due to its excellent conformability. It can also be used as an active sensor to detect motion of the human body (e.g., muscle stretching, blood flow), external environmental changes, and microscopic motion.
- Cost-effective: Uses lower cost ultrathin Al-foil electrodes
- Flexible: Adapts to shape changes due to its super-flexible and conformable properties, enabling the harvesting of mechanical energy from a variety of external sources
- Self-powered: Derives energy from its environment, requiring no maintenance
- Renewable energy
- Medical devices
- Small electronics
Renewable and green energy sources are needed for sustainable, maintenance-free, and continuous operation of small-scale electronics, such as implantable biosensors, nanorobotics, and mobile environmental sensors. The research team has developed nanogenerators that operate not only as self-sufficient power sources for micro- and nano-systems but also as self-powered sensors for detecting motion, vibration, or any mechanical disturbance. This super-flexible and conformable nanogenerator can not only enable energy harvested from a waving flag but also detect skin movement when attached to a human face.