A highly shape-adaptive, stretchable design based on conductive liquid for energy harvesting and self-powered biomechanical monitoring

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Science Advances  17 Jun 2016:
Vol. 2, no. 6, e1501624
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1501624

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The rapid growth of deformable and stretchable electronics calls for a deformable and stretchable power source. We report a scalable approach for energy harvesters and self-powered sensors that can be highly deformable and stretchable. With conductive liquid contained in a polymer cover, a shape-adaptive triboelectric nanogenerator (saTENG) unit can effectively harvest energy in various working modes. The saTENG can maintain its performance under a strain of as large as 300%. The saTENG is so flexible that it can be conformed to any three-dimensional and curvilinear surface. We demonstrate applications of the saTENG as a wearable power source and self-powered sensor to monitor biomechanical motion. A bracelet-like saTENG worn on the wrist can light up more than 80 light-emitting diodes. Owing to the highly scalable manufacturing process, the saTENG can be easily applied for large-area energy harvesting. In addition, the saTENG can be extended to extract energy from mechanical motion using flowing water as the electrode. This approach provides a new prospect for deformable and stretchable power sources, as well as self-powered sensors, and has potential applications in various areas such as robotics, biomechanics, physiology, kinesiology, and entertainment.

  • Stretchable
  • wearable
  • energy harvesting
  • self-powered sensing

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

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