Wearable Power Sources and Self-powered Sensors Based on the Triboelectric Nanogenerators
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The triboelectric nanogenerator (TENG) has attracted global attention in the fields of power sources and self-powered sensors. By coupling the omnipresent triboelectrification effect and the electrical induction effect, the TENGs can transduce ambient mechanical energy into electrical energy. Such energy could be consumed instantaneously or stored for later use. In this way, they could be deployed distributedly to be compatible power sources in the era of the internet of things (IoTs), completing the powering structure that is currently relying on power plants. Also, the electrical signals can reflect the environment changes around the TENGs. Thus, the TENGs can serve as self-powered sensors in the IoTs. In this work, we adopted two approaches for TENG fabrication: the thermal drawing method (TDP) and 3D printing. With TDP, we have fabricated scalable fiber-based triboelectric nanogenerators (FTENG), which have been woven into textiles by an industrial loom for wearable use. This fabrication process can supply FTENG on a large scale and fast speed, bridging the gap between the TENG and weaving industry. With 3D printing, we have fabricated TENGs that are compatible with the shape of arbitrary substrates. They have been used as biocompatible sensors: human-skin-compatible TENG has been used to recognize silent speech in real-time by sensing the chin movement; the porcine-kidney-shaped fiber mesh has been used to monitor the perfusion rate of the organ. These works have extended the territory of TENGs and can be critical components in the IoTs.
General Audience Abstract
Portable electronic devices have become important components in our daily lives, and we are entering the era of the Internet of Things (IoTs), where everyday objects can be interconnected by the internet. While electricity is essential to all of these devices, the traditional power sources are commonly heavy and bulky and need to be recharged or directly connected to the immobile power plants. Researchers have been working to address this mismatch between the device and power systems. The triboelectric nanogenerators (TENG) are good candidates because they can harvest energy in the ambient environment. The users can use them to generate electricity by merely making the rubbing motion. In this work, we report two fabrication methods of the fiber-based triboelectric nanogenerators (FTENG). With the thermal drawing process, we have fabricated sub-kilometer-long FTENG and wove it with the regular cotton yarn into textiles. The wearable power source is human friendly as it does not induce any extra weight load for the user. Besides, we have demonstrated that such long fibers can work as self-powered distributed sensors, such as a Morse code generator. With 3D printing, we have fabricated FTENG-based devices that conform to the working substrates, which can be any shape. We have employed them as biofriendly sensors to translate the chin movement during speaking to language and to monitor the perfusion rate of a pig kidney. The FTENGs have offered excellent comfortability to the users and can play a vital role in reframing the power structure to be compatible with IoTs.
- Doctoral Dissertations