Triboelectric Nanogenerators Derived from Natural Materials as Sustainable Power Sources

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Emerging implantable devices demand appropriate power sources that can sustainably operate with minimal intervention. Currently, powering electronics relies on batteries; however, replacing batteries is difficult and expensive, especially for implantable devices. Moreover, materials used for batteries impose health and environmental hazards. Self-powered devices that can harvest energy from its environment, i.e., human body, holds promise for addressing this issue. Mechanical energy is ubiquitous and abundant for powering the sustainable operation of implanted medical devices. Triboelectric nanogenerators (TENGs) have emerged as a promising technology for converting biomechanical energy into electricity. However, materials synthesis in TENG often involves expensive and elaborate processing and the materials are usually not biocompatible or degradable, presenting challenges for successful implementation of TENG in low-cost medical relevant applications.

Researchers at Purdue University have developed novel lower-cost, biodegradable, and flexible triboelectric generators (TEGs) based on chitosan derived from crab shells or shrimp, which are currently disposed of in a landfill or the sea by the food processing industry, but could become a byproduct. Tunable electrical outputs were achieved by either mixing the chitosan with other natural materials, such as starch and lignin, or through laser processing. Laser treatment of biopolymer films with increased surface roughness offers a new way for surface engineering. The chitosan-based TEGs present efficient energy conversion performance and tunable degradation rate. The new class of TEGs derived from natural materials may pave the way towards the economically viable production of flexible TEGs for self-powered nanosystems in biomedical and environmental applications.

-Lower cost

Potential Applications:
-Self-powered nanosystems in biomedical and environment applications
-Implantable devices
-Wearable electronics
May 14, 2018
Utility Patent
United States
Nov 12, 2019

Jun 5, 2017
United States
Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization
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