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Indian scientists develop nanogenerator for use in self powering devices

Image of the flexible and transparent TENG device with PET as one and thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) as the complementing tribolayer. (PIB)Premium
Image of the flexible and transparent TENG device with PET as one and thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) as the complementing tribolayer. (PIB)

  • The triboelectric nanogenerators (TENG) use mechanical energy in the form of vibrations present everywhere in different forms to generate electricity
  • The fabricated device could light up 11 LEDs by gentle hand tapping. It could also find potential use in optoelectronics, and other biomedical apps

NEW DELHI: A team of Indian scientists have fabricated a transparent nanogenerator capable of generating electricity from vibrations all around for use in optoelectronics, self-powered devices, and other biomedical applications, the ministry of science and technology said in a statement.

Dr Shankar Rao and his team from the Centre for Nano and Soft Matter Sciences, Bengaluru, an autonomous institute under the department of science and technology, Government of India, have designed a transparent triboelectric nanogenerator (TENG), using thermoplastic polyurethanes (TPU) either in the form of electrospun nanofibers or as a flat film using the simpler doctor’s blade technique, along with polyethylene terephthalate (PET) as tribo layers.

TPU nanofibers are obtained from the electrospinning (ES) technique. The doctor’s blade technique, a routine procedure adapted in a variety of situations, involves squeezing the material through a blade. In this, the substrate yields a uniform thin layer. This technique is cost effective compared to currently available fabrication techniques on account of active material being easily available, and owing to the simplicity of the procedure. The resulting device is also highly efficient, robust, and gives reproducible output over long hours of operation. The results were published in the Journal of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, according to the ministry's statement.

Searching for renewable energy resources with reduced carbon emissions is one of the most urgent challenges due to the increasing threat of global warming and energy crisis. Some of the unconventional methods used to generate electricity include piezoelectric, thermoelectric, and electrostatic techniques used in devices like touch screens, electronic displays, and so forth.

The triboelectric nanogenerators (TENG) use mechanical energy in the form of vibrations present everywhere in different forms to generate electricity. The energy harvesting TENG works on the principle of creation of electrostatic charges via instantaneous physical contact of two dissimilar materials followed by generation of potential difference, when a mismatch is introduced between the two contacted surfaces through a mechanical force. This mechanism drives the electrons to move back and forth between the conducting films coated on the back of the tribo layers. The methods employed till date to design TENG involve expensive techniques such as photolithography or reactive ion etching, and additional process like electrode preparation and, so on, the government said.

The fabricated device could light up 11 LEDs by gentle hand tapping and could be a potential candidate for use in optoelectronics, self-powered devices, and other biomedical applications.

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