Scientists at Clemson’s Nanomaterials Institute are working on a new form of wireless power. Using a green energy source called triboelectricity, researchers believe they are drawing closer to the day that we can all bid goodbye to wire chargers.
Back in March of 2017, scientists unveiled a remarkably simple triboelectric nanogenerator named U-TENG. The tiny device was made of plastic and tape. How could such a creation manage to generate electricity? By harnessing the power of motions and vibrations. Two materials are brought together (like when you tap your feet on the ground or clap your hands together). These actions generate voltage which is detected through a wired, external circuit. The electrical energy generated through this action can then be stored in a capacitor or battery.
Fast forward nine months later, when scientists reveal that they have finally created a wireless TENG. Known as the W-TENG, this device relies on materials that are dramatically opposite in their affinity for electrons. This allows them to generate a voltage when they come into contact.The upgraded version saw plastic replaced with a multipart fiber made of GrapheneA conductive material made of a 2-D layer of carbon atoms.">graphene, as well as a biodegradable polymer called polylactic acid. Polylactic acid excels at separating positive and negative charges, but is only mediocre at conducting electricity. That’s where the graphene comes to the rescue. The tape was swapped out as well, this time for Teflon — yes, the same compound you find coating your favorite nonstick pans.
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