Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > New material harvests energy from water vapor: Polymer film could be used in artificial muscle and to power micro- and nanoelectronic devices

Abstract:
MIT engineers have created a new polymer film that can generate electricity by drawing on a ubiquitous source: water vapor.

New material harvests energy from water vapor: Polymer film could be used in artificial muscle and to power micro- and nanoelectronic devices

Cambridge, MA | Posted on January 11th, 2013

The new material changes its shape after absorbing tiny amounts of evaporated water, allowing it to repeatedly curl up and down. Harnessing this continuous motion could drive robotic limbs or generate enough electricity to power micro- and nanoelectronic devices, such as environmental sensors.

"With a sensor powered by a battery, you have to replace it periodically. If you have this device, you can harvest energy from the environment so you don't have to replace it very often," says Mingming Ma, a postdoc at MIT's David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and lead author of a paper describing the new material in the Jan. 11 issue of Science.

"We are very excited about this new material, and we expect as we achieve higher efficiency in converting mechanical energy into electricity, this material will find even broader applications," says Robert Langer, the David H. Koch Institute Professor at MIT and senior author of the paper. Those potential applications include large-scale, water-vapor-powered generators, or smaller generators to power wearable electronics.

Other authors of the Science paper are Koch Institute postdoc Liang Guo and Daniel Anderson, the Samuel A. Goldblith Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering and a member of the Koch Institute and MIT's Institute for Medical Engineering and Science.

Harvesting energy

The new film is made from an interlocking network of two different polymers. One of the polymers, polypyrrole, forms a hard but flexible matrix that provides structural support. The other polymer, polyol-borate, is a soft gel that swells when it absorbs water.

Previous efforts to make water-responsive films have used only polypyrrole, which shows a much weaker response on its own. "By incorporating the two different kinds of polymers, you can generate a much bigger displacement, as well as a stronger force," Guo says.

The film harvests energy found in the water gradient between dry and water-rich environments. When the 20-micrometer-thick film lies on a surface that contains even a small amount of moisture, the bottom layer absorbs evaporated water, forcing the film to curl away from the surface. Once the bottom of the film is exposed to air, it quickly releases the moisture, somersaults forward, and starts to curl up again. As this cycle is repeated, the continuous motion converts the chemical energy of the water gradient into mechanical energy.

Such films could act as either actuators (a type of motor) or generators. As an actuator, the material can be surprisingly powerful: The researchers demonstrated that a 25-milligram film can lift a load of glass slides 380 times its own weight, or transport a load of silver wires 10 times its own weight, by working as a potent water-powered "mini tractor." Using only water as an energy source, this film could replace the electricity-powered actuators now used to control small robotic limbs.

"It doesn't need a lot of water," Ma says. "A very small amount of moisture would be enough."

A key advantage of the new film is that it doesn't require manipulation of environmental conditions, as do actuators that respond to changes in temperature or acidity, says Ryan Hayward, an associate professor of polymer science and engineering at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

"What's really impressive about this work is that they were able to figure out a scheme where a gradient in humidity would cause the polymer to cyclically roll up, flip over and roll in the other direction, and were able to harness that energy to do work," says Hayward, who was not part of the research team.

Generating electricity

The mechanical energy generated by the material can also be converted into electricity by coupling the polymer film with a piezoelectric material, which converts mechanical stress to an electric charge. This system can generate an average power of 5.6 nanowatts, which can be stored in capacitors to power ultra-low-power microelectronic devices, such as temperature and humidity sensors.

If used to generate electricity on a larger scale, the film could harvest energy from the environment — for example, while placed above a lake or river. Or, it could be attached to clothing, where the mere evaporation of sweat could fuel devices such as physiological monitoring sensors. "You could be running or exercising and generating power," Guo says.

On a smaller scale, the film could power microelectricalmechanical systems (MEMS), including environmental sensors, or even smaller devices, such as nanoelectronics. The researchers are now working to improve the efficiency of the conversion of mechanical energy to electrical energy, which could allow smaller films to power larger devices.

The research was funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Program of Excellence in Nanotechnology, the National Cancer Institute, and the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine.

Anne Trafton, MIT News Office

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Sarah McDonnell

617-253-8923

Copyright © Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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

Looking for the quantum frontier: Beyond classical computing without fault-tolerance? April 27th, 2017

Metal nanoparticles induced visible-light photocatalysis: Mechanisms, applications, ways of promoting catalytic activity and outlook April 27th, 2017

Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals to Webcast Fiscal 2017 Second Quarter Results April 27th, 2017

California Research Alliance by BASF establishes more than 25 research projects in three years April 26th, 2017

Videos/Movies

Wood filter removes toxic dye from water April 21st, 2017

Making Batteries From Waste Glass Bottles: UCR researchers are turning glass bottles into high performance lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles and personal electronics April 19th, 2017

Nano-SPEARs gently measure electrical signals in small animals: Rice University's tiny needles simplify data gathering to probe diseases, test drugs April 17th, 2017

Researchers develop groundbreaking process for creating ultra-selective separation membranes: Discovery could greatly improve energy-efficiency of separation and purification processes in the chemical and petrochemical industries March 15th, 2017

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Metal nanoparticles induced visible-light photocatalysis: Mechanisms, applications, ways of promoting catalytic activity and outlook April 27th, 2017

Graphene holds up under high pressure: Used in filtration membranes, ultrathin material could help make desalination more productive April 24th, 2017

Nanoparticle vaccine shows potential as immunotherapy to fight multiple cancer types April 24th, 2017

NanoMONITOR shares its latest developments concerning the NanoMONITOR Software and the Monitoring stations April 21st, 2017

MEMS

Smart multi-layered magnetic material acts as an electric switch: New study reveals characteristic of islands of magnetic metals between vacuum gaps, displaying tunnelling electric current March 1st, 2017

Engineers shrink microscope to dime-sized device February 17th, 2017

Leti Coordinating Project to Adapt Obstacle-Detection Technology Used in Autonomous Cars for Portable and Wearable Systems: INSPEX to Combine Knowhow of Nine European Organizations to Create Portable and Wearable Spatial-Exploration Systems February 2nd, 2017

Manufacturing platform makes intricate biocompatible micromachines January 7th, 2017

Nanomedicine

Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals to Webcast Fiscal 2017 Second Quarter Results April 27th, 2017

New Product Nanoparticle preparation from Intertronics with new Thinky NP-100 Nano Pulveriser April 26th, 2017

Nanoparticle vaccine shows potential as immunotherapy to fight multiple cancer types April 24th, 2017

Arrowhead Presents ARC-520 and ARC-521 Clinical Data at The International Liver Congress(TM) April 20th, 2017

Sensors

Better living through pressure: Functional nanomaterials made easy April 19th, 2017

A Sensitive And Dynamic Tactile Sensor Read more from Asian Scientist Magazine at: https://www.asianscientist.com/2017/04/tech/tactile-3d-active-matrix-sensor/ April 18th, 2017

AIM Photonics Presents Cutting-Edge Integrated Photonics Technology Developments to Packed House at OFC 2017, the Optical Networking and Communication Conference & Exhibition April 11th, 2017

New technology could offer cheaper, faster food testing: Specialized droplets interact with bacteria and can be analyzed using a smartphone April 7th, 2017

Nanoelectronics

Researchers “iron out” graphene’s wrinkles: New technique produces highly conductive graphene wafers April 3rd, 2017

A big leap toward tinier lines: Self-assembly technique could lead to long-awaited, simple method for making smaller microchip patterns March 27th, 2017

Scientists discover new 'boat' form of promising semiconductor: GeSe Uncommon form attenuates semiconductor's band gap size March 23rd, 2017

UC researchers use gold coating to control luminescence of nanowires: University of Cincinnati physicists manipulate nanowire semiconductors in pursuit of making electronics smaller, faster and cheaper March 17th, 2017

Materials/Metamaterials

California Research Alliance by BASF establishes more than 25 research projects in three years April 26th, 2017

Geoffrey Beach: Drawn to explore magnetism: Materials researcher is working on the magnetic memory of the future April 25th, 2017

Graphene holds up under high pressure: Used in filtration membranes, ultrathin material could help make desalination more productive April 24th, 2017

Russian scientists create new system of concrete building structures: Sientists of Peter the Great Saint-Petersburg Polytechnic University developed a new construction technology April 24th, 2017

Announcements

Looking for the quantum frontier: Beyond classical computing without fault-tolerance? April 27th, 2017

Metal nanoparticles induced visible-light photocatalysis: Mechanisms, applications, ways of promoting catalytic activity and outlook April 27th, 2017

Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals to Webcast Fiscal 2017 Second Quarter Results April 27th, 2017

Video captures bubble-blowing battery in action: Researchers propose how bubbles form, could lead to smaller lithium-air batteries April 26th, 2017

Military

Nano-SPEARs gently measure electrical signals in small animals: Rice University's tiny needles simplify data gathering to probe diseases, test drugs April 17th, 2017

New technology could offer cheaper, faster food testing: Specialized droplets interact with bacteria and can be analyzed using a smartphone April 7th, 2017

Teri Odom and Richard Van Duyne Honored by Department of Defense: Each will receive $3 million over five years to conduct high-risk, high-payoff research March 31st, 2017

NIST physicists show ion pairs perform enhanced 'spooky action' March 30th, 2017

Energy

Using light to propel water : With new method, MIT engineers can control and separate fluids on a surface using only visible light April 25th, 2017

SUNY Polytechnic Institute Announces Total of 172 Teams Selected to Compete in Solar in Your Community Challenge: Teams from 40 states, plus Washington, DC, 2 Territories, and 4 American Indian Reservations, Will Deploy Solar in Underserved Communities April 20th, 2017

Better living through pressure: Functional nanomaterials made easy April 19th, 2017

Shedding light on the absorption of light by titanium dioxide April 14th, 2017

Water

Using light to propel water : With new method, MIT engineers can control and separate fluids on a surface using only visible light April 25th, 2017

Graphene holds up under high pressure: Used in filtration membranes, ultrathin material could help make desalination more productive April 24th, 2017

Wood filter removes toxic dye from water April 21st, 2017

Shedding light on the absorption of light by titanium dioxide April 14th, 2017

Battery Technology/Capacitors/Generators/Piezoelectrics/Thermoelectrics/Energy storage

Video captures bubble-blowing battery in action: Researchers propose how bubbles form, could lead to smaller lithium-air batteries April 26th, 2017

Forge Nano 2017: 1st Quarter Media Update April 20th, 2017

Making Batteries From Waste Glass Bottles: UCR researchers are turning glass bottles into high performance lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles and personal electronics April 19th, 2017

Bio-inspired energy storage: A new light for solar power: Graphene-based electrode prototype, inspired by fern leaves, could be the answer to solar energy storage challenge April 2nd, 2017

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