To fabricate the triboelectric generators, the researchers began by creating a mold from a silicon wafer on which the friction-enhancing patterns are formed using traditional photolithography and either a dry or wet etching process. The molds, in which the features of the patterns are formed in recess, were then treated with a chemical to prevent the PDMS from sticking.
The liquid PDMS elastomer and cross-linker were then mixed and spin-coated onto the mold, and after thermal curing, peeled off as a thin film. The PDMS film with patterning was then fixed onto an electrode surface made of indium tin oxide (ITO) coated with polyethylene terephthalate (PET) by a thin PDMS bonding layer. The entire structure was then covered with another ITO-coated PET film to form a sandwich structure.
"The entire preparation process is simple and low cost, making it possible to be scaled up for large scale production and practical applications," Wang said.
The generators are robust, continuing to produce current even after days of use and more than 100,000 cycles of operation, Wang said. The next step in the research will be to create systems that include storage mechanisms for the current generated.
"Friction is everywhere, so this principle could be used in a lot of applications," Wang added. "We are combining our earlier nanogenerator and this new triboelectric generator for complementary purposes. The triboelectric generator won't replace the zinc oxide nanogenerator, but it has its own unique advantages that will allow us to use them in parallel."
|Contact: John Toon|
Georgia Institute of Technology Research News