16 décembre 2021

[Nanotechnology] – Nanotehcnology could give us battery-free electronic toys.

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Energy nanotechnology - Codex International

Given their huge potential, more than 60 nanotechnology research groups worldwide (see: « Proposed standards for triboelectric nanogenerators could facilitate comparisons« ) have now begun to develop triboelectric nanogenerators (TENGs) for harvesting energy from mechanical vibrations. TENGs convert ambient mechanical energy into electricity for powering wearable electronics, sensor networks, implantable medical devices and other small systems.

TENGs utilize charges arising from friction similar to the static we experience on dry winter days; and by nanostructuring the materials in a TENG device, the produced energy could be amplified by increasing the contact area of the surfaces.

In a step toward the commercialization of TENG devices, researchers in Korea have presented a novel approach that uses TENG technology to develop battery-free, self-powered electronic toys.

« Our proposed TENG toys – a smart clapping toy (SCT-TENG) and a smart duck toy (SDT-TENG) – are eco-friendly and safe for children, » Arunkumar Chandrasekhar, a Postdoctoral Fellow in Prof. Sang-Jae Kim’s Nano-Materials & Systems Lab at Jeju National University, South Korea. « They work in contact-separation mode, utilizing triboelectrification and electrostatic induction to harness biomechanical energy. These devices exhibit excellent bio-mechanical energy harvesting performance with long-term stability. »

Chandrasekhar is first author of a paper in ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering(« Battery-free Electronic Smart Toys: A Step toward the Commercialization of Sustainable Triboelectric Nanogenerators ») where the team demonstrate that TENG devices can be successfully used to create smart self-powered toys.

« Our work opens up possibilities for the commercialization of TENGs in the consumer market by developing battery-free TENG-powered toys, » Chandrasekhar points out.

To fabricate the clapping toy, the researchers cut a small piece of PDMS film to fit the toy, and backed it with an aluminum electrode, which acts as a negative triboelectric material. Another aluminum electrode layer, which acts as a positive triboelectric material, was applied on the upper side of the PDMS film. Thin copper wires were used to create an electrical connection.

To fabricate the duck toy, the team tailored surface-modified PDMS film to fit the toy. An aluminum electrode layer was attached to the bottom side of the film, with the surface-modified film facing upwards. Another aluminum electrode layer was attached to the topside of the film. Electrical connections were made using a thin copper wire.

The electrical output from each toy was connected to a bridge rectifier to obtain a Direct Current signal. Then this output was connected to a LED circuit. Both the devices work on the same principle with different mechanical activation methods (shaking and pressing).

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