Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors





Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

Home > Press > Energy Harvesting: Nanogenerators Grow Strong Enough to Power Small Conventional Electronic Devices

In a new technique for producing nanogenerators, researchers transfer vertically-aligned nanowires to a flexible substrate. (Courtesy of Zhong Lin Wang)
In a new technique for producing nanogenerators, researchers transfer vertically-aligned nanowires to a flexible substrate. (Courtesy of Zhong Lin Wang)

Abstract:
Blinking numbers on a liquid-crystal display (LCD) often indicate that a device's clock needs resetting. But in the laboratory of Zhong Lin Wang at Georgia Tech, the blinking number on a small LCD signals the success of a five-year effort to power conventional electronic devices with nanoscale generators that harvest mechanical energy from the environment using an array of tiny nanowires.

Energy Harvesting: Nanogenerators Grow Strong Enough to Power Small Conventional Electronic Devices

Atlanta, GA | Posted on November 9th, 2010

In this case, the mechanical energy comes from compressing a nanogenerator between two fingers, but it could also come from a heartbeat, the pounding of a hiker's shoe on a trail, the rustling of a shirt, or the vibration of a heavy machine. While these nanogenerators will never produce large amounts of electricity for conventional purposes, they could be used to power nanoscale and microscale devices - and even to recharge pacemakers or iPods.

Wang's nanogenerators rely on the piezoelectric effect seen in crystalline materials such as zinc oxide, in which an electric charge potential is created when structures made from the material are flexed or compressed. By capturing and combining the charges from millions of these nanoscale zinc oxide wires, Wang and his research team can produce as much as three volts - and up to 300 nanoamps.

"By simplifying our design, making it more robust and integrating the contributions from many more nanowires, we have successfully boosted the output of our nanogenerator enough to drive devices such as commercial liquid-crystal displays, light-emitting diodes and laser diodes," said Wang, a Regents' professor in Georgia Tech's School of Materials Science and Engineering. "If we can sustain this rate of improvement, we will reach some true applications in healthcare devices, personal electronics, or environmental monitoring."

Recent improvements in the nanogenerators, including a simpler fabrication technique, were reported online last week in the journal Nano Letters. Earlier papers in the same journal and in Nature Communications reported other advances for the work, which has been supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Air Force, and the National Science Foundation.

"We are interested in very small devices that can be used in applications such as health care, environmental monitoring and personal electronics," said Wang. "How to power these devices is a critical issue."

The earliest zinc oxide nanogenerators used arrays of nanowires grown on a rigid substrate and topped with a metal electrode. Later versions embedded both ends of the nanowires in polymer and produced power by simple flexing. Regardless of the configuration, the devices required careful growth of the nanowire arrays and painstaking assembly.

In the latest paper, Wang and his group members Youfan Hu, Yan Zhang, Chen Xu, Guang Zhu and Zetang Li reported on much simpler fabrication techniques. First, they grew arrays of a new type of nanowire that has a conical shape. These wires were cut from their growth substrate and placed into an alcohol solution.

The solution containing the nanowires was then dripped onto a thin metal electrode and a sheet of flexible polymer film. After the alcohol was allowed to dry, another layer was created. Multiple nanowire/polymer layers were built up into a kind of composite, using a process that Wang believes could be scaled up to industrial production.

When flexed, these nanowire sandwiches - which are about two centimeters by 1.5 centimeters - generated enough power to drive a commercial display borrowed from a pocket calculator.

Wang says the nanogenerators are now close to producing enough current for a self-powered system that might monitor the environment for a toxic gas, for instance, then broadcast a warning. The system would include capacitors able to store up the small charges until enough power was available to send out a burst of data.

While even the current nanogenerator output remains below the level required for such devices as iPods or cardiac pacemakers, Wang believes those levels will be reached within three to five years. The current nanogenerator, he notes, is nearly 100 times more powerful than what his group had developed just a year ago.

Writing in a separate paper published in October in the journal Nature Communications, group members Sheng Xu, Benjamin J. Hansen and Wang reported on a new technique for fabricating piezoelectric nanowires from lead zirconate titanate - also known as PZT. The material is already used industrially, but is difficult to grow because it requires temperatures of 650 degrees Celsius.

In the paper, Wang's team reported the first chemical epitaxial growth of vertically-aligned single-crystal nanowire arrays of PZT on a variety of conductive and non-conductive substrates. They used a process known as hydrothermal decomposition, which took place at just 230 degrees Celsius.

With a rectifying circuit to convert alternating current to direct current, the researchers used the PZT nanogenerators to power a commercial laser diode, demonstrating an alternative materials system for Wang's nanogenerator family. "This allows us the flexibility of choosing the best material and process for the given need, although the performance of PZT is not as good as zinc oxide for power generation," he explained.

And in another paper published in Nano Letters, Wang and group members Guang Zhu, Rusen Yang and Sihong Wang reported on yet another advance boosting nanogenerator output. Their approach, called "scalable sweeping printing," includes a two-step process of (1) transferring vertically-aligned zinc oxide nanowires to a polymer receiving substrate to form horizontal arrays and (2) applying parallel strip electrodes to connect all of the nanowires together.

Using a single layer of this structure, the researchers produced an open-circuit voltage of 2.03 volts and a peak output power density of approximately 11 milliwatts per cubic centimeter.

"From when we got started in 2005 until today, we have dramatically improved the output of our nanogenerators," Wang noted. "We are within the range of what's needed. If we can drive these small components, I believe we will be able to power small systems in the near future. In the next five years, I hope to see this move into application."



####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Media Relations Assistance:
John Toon
404-894-6986


Abby Vogel Robinson
404-385-3364


Copyright © Georgia Tech

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Pixelligent Launches New PixClear® Light Extraction Materials for OLED Lighting August 4th, 2015

The annual meeting on High Power Diode Lasers & Systems will be held as part of the Enlighten Conference, October 14th & 15th August 4th, 2015

Atomic view of microtubules: Berkeley Lab researchers achieve record 3.5 angstroms resolution and visualize action of a major microtubule-regulating protein August 4th, 2015

World's quietest gas lets physicists hear faint quantum effects August 4th, 2015

Possible Futures

Global Carbon Nanotubes Industry 2015: Acute Market Reports August 4th, 2015

Nanozirconia Market 2015 - Global Industry Survey, Analysis, Size, Share, Outlook and Forecast to 2020 July 31st, 2015

Self-Healing Nano Anti-rust Coatings Market 2015 - Global Industry Survey, Analysis, Size, Share, Outlook and Forecast to 2020 July 31st, 2015

Nano Spray Instrument Market 2015 - Global Industry Survey, Analysis, Size, Share, Outlook and Forecast to 2020 July 31st, 2015

Academic/Education

Pakistani Students Who Survived Terror Attack to Attend Weeklong “NanoDiscovery Institute” at SUNY Poly CNSE in Albany July 29th, 2015

Deben reports on the use of their CT500 in the X-ray microtomography laboratory at La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia July 22nd, 2015

JPK reports on the use of SPM in the Messersmith Group at UC Berkeley looking at biologically inspired polymer adhesives. July 21st, 2015

Renishaw adds Raman analysis to Scanning Electron Microscopy at the University of Sydney, Australia July 9th, 2015

Molecular Machines

Injectable electronics: New system holds promise for basic neuroscience, treatment of neuro-degenerative diseases June 8th, 2015

One step closer to a single-molecule device: Columbia Engineering researchers first to create a single-molecule diode -- the ultimate in miniaturization for electronic devices -- with potential for real-world applications May 25th, 2015

UCLA nanoscientists are first to model atomic structures of three bacterial nanomachines: Cryo electron microscope enables scientists to explore the frontiers of targeted antibiotics April 21st, 2015

Advances in molecular electronics: Lights on -- molecule on: Researchers from Dresden and Konstanz succeed in light-controlled molecule switching April 20th, 2015

Nanomedicine

Atomic view of microtubules: Berkeley Lab researchers achieve record 3.5 angstroms resolution and visualize action of a major microtubule-regulating protein August 4th, 2015

Artificial blood vessels become resistant to thrombosis August 4th, 2015

Nanoparticles used to breach mucus barrier in lungs: Proof-of-concept study conducted in mice a key step toward better treatments for lung diseases August 3rd, 2015

Promising Step Taken in Iran towards Treatment of Spinal Cord Injury August 3rd, 2015

Sensors

Quantum states in a nano-object manipulated using a mechanical system August 3rd, 2015

Diagnosis of Salmonella Bacterium-Caused Food Poisoning by Biosensors August 3rd, 2015

Gold-diamond nanodevice for hyperlocalised cancer therapy: Gold nanorods can be used as remote controlled nanoheaters delivering the right amount of thermal treatment to cancer cells, thanks to diamond nanocrystals used as temperature sensors August 1st, 2015

Advances and Applications in Biosensing, Sensor Power, and Sensor R&D to be Covered at Sensors Global Summit August 1st, 2015

Announcements

Artificial blood vessels become resistant to thrombosis August 4th, 2015

Engineering a better 'Do: Purdue researchers are learning how August 4th, 2015

Proving nanoparticles in sunscreen products August 4th, 2015

Global Carbon Nanotubes Industry 2015: Acute Market Reports August 4th, 2015

Environment

March 2016; 6th Int'l Conference on Nanostructures in Iran July 29th, 2015

Laboratorial Performance of Nanocomposite Membrane Improved in Water Purification July 28th, 2015

Nanosorbents Reduce Amount of Heavy Metals in Petrochemical Wastewater July 23rd, 2015

Nanopaper as an optical sensing platform July 23rd, 2015

Energy

Transparent, electrically conductive network of encapsulated silver nanowires: A novel electrode for optoelectronics August 1st, 2015

Springer and Tsinghua University Press present the second Nano Research Award: Paul Alivisatos of the University of California Berkeley receives the honor for outstanding contributions in nanoscience July 30th, 2015

Controlling Dynamic Behavior of Carbon Nanosheets in Structures Made Possible July 30th, 2015

March 2016; 6th Int'l Conference on Nanostructures in Iran July 29th, 2015

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project