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New small-scale generator produces alternating current by stretching zinc oxide wires
Date:11/9/2008

r new flexible charge pump resolves several key issues with our previous generators," Wang said. "The new design would be more robust, eliminating the problem of moisture infiltration and the wearing of the structures. From a practical standpoint, this would be a major advantage."

To boost the current produced, arrays of the flexible charge pumps could be constructed and connected in series. Multiple layers of the generators could also be built up, forming modules that could then be embedded into clothing, flags, building decorations, shoes or even implanted in the body to power blood pressure or other sensors.

When the modules are mechanically stretched and then released, because of the piezoelectric properties, the zinc oxide material generates a piezoelectric potential that alternately builds up and then is released. A Schottky barrier controls the alternating flow of electrons, and the piezoelectric potential is the driving force of the charge pump.

"The electrons flow in and out, just like AC current," Wang explained. "The alternating flow of electrons is the power output process."

Constructed with zinc oxide piezoelectric fine wires with diameters of three to five microns and lengths of 200 to 300 microns, the new generator no longer depends on nanometer-scale structures. The larger size was chosen for easier fabrication, but Wang said the principles could be scaled down to the nanometer scale.

"Nanoscale materials are not required for this to work," he said. "Larger fibers work better and are easier to work with to fabricate devices. But the same principle would apply at the nanometer scale."

The wires are grown using a physical vapor deposition method at approximately 600 degrees Celsius. Using an optical microscope, the wires are then bonded onto a polyimide film and silver paste applied at both ends to serve as electrodes. The wires and electrodes were then encased in polyimide to prot
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Contact: John Toon
jtoon@gatech.edu
404-894-6986
Georgia Institute of Technology Research News
Source:Eurekalert  

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