12 juillet 2021

[Nanotechnology] – Triboelectric nanogenerators to the rescue if you lose your sense of touch.

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triboélectricité - Codex International

Dozens of research groups worldwide are developing variations of the triboelectric nanogenerator (TENG), a device that converts ambient mechanical energy into electricity.

Triboelectric nanogenerators use a combination of the triboelectric effect and electrostatic induction to generate small amounts of electrical power from mechanical motion such as rotation, sliding or vibration. The triboelectric effect takes advantage of the fact that certain materials become electrically charged after they come into moving contact with a surface made from a different material.

The electricity generated by TENGs could replace or supplement other power sources such as batteries or supercapacitors for powering wearable electronics, sensor networks, implantable medical devices and other small systems. 

Some research groups working on TENGs are focusing on biomedical applications, an area with numerous and exciting possibilities. One recent example in this field is an in vitro and in vivo proof-of-concept for the capacity of TENG technology to function as a simple, scalable, inexpensive, and self-powered device for tactile sensory restoration.

« Today, there is much room for development in the design of implanted devices aimed at restoring tactile sensation, » Ben M. Maoz, a Principal Investigator in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, and Sagol School of Neuroscience at Tel Aviv University, tells Nanowerk. « In addition to overcoming the shortcomings of current and emerging technologies, such a device should ideally fulfill several criteria – biocompatibility; durability, flexibility and small footprint; wide range of sensitivity corresponding to normal human pressure perception; and simplicity of design and implantation. »

In this work, Maoz and his team created an integrated tactile (IT) sensory restoration device (TENG-IT) that powers itself and is suitable for implantation, and demonstrated its functionality in vivo.

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