A research group in China has devised a method to generate electricity from body movements using a flexible triboelectric nanogenerator (TENG). They reported their findings in Nano Energy.
Portable and wearable electronics such as cell phones and smart watches have become indispensable components of modern living. However, the operation times of these devices are limited by battery capacity.
Portable or wearable electricity generators have thus been proposed to charge batteries on the go, but the output power of these generators needs to be improved and they have to be manufactured more cost effectively.
In this study, researchers led by Professor Xu Yun of the Institute of Semiconductors within the Chinese Academy of Sciences used simple macrocontrols instead of expensive lithography technology to manufacture a TENG that had superior power generating capabilities. According to the research group, their TENG (1.5 cm x 1 cm) was able to generate enough voltage to light 48 red LED lights simultaneously.
The researchers also characterized the TENG’s dependence on several environment factors, including frequency, temperature, force and mechanical endurance. They showed that slight body movements, such as bending a finger or rotating the wrist, could result in electrical output. The researchers believe that their device will pave the way for better wearable electronics, robotics and self-powered systems.