Capsule Triboelectric Nanogenerators: Toward Optional 3D Integration for High Output and Efficient Energy Harvesting from Broadband-Amplitude Vibrations

The technology of triboelectric nanogenerators (TENGs) has made great progress as a promising approach to generating electricity from ambient vibration energy. However, finding a way to generate enough electrical output efficiently from vibrations with a broadband of amplitudes is crucial when the relatively low current output of existing TENGs and the existence of natural vibrations with diverse amplitudes are considered. In this work, a freestanding and lightweight triboelectric nanogenerator with a capsule structure (namely, a capsule TENG) is demonstrated with an aim toward optional 3D integration and the efficient harvesting of energy from vibrations with a broadband of amplitudes. The capsule TENGs can be easily integrated to form 1D, 2D, and 3D structures to realize high electrical output. Under ideal conditions, the total output power of an integrated capsule-TENG pack can be approximately estimated as <i>p</i> × <i>n</i><sup>2</sup>, where <i>p</i> is the peak output power per capsule TENG and <i>n</i> is the number of capsule TENGs. When capsule TENGs with hybrid structures, such as different lengths of the capsule tube and different numbers of paired electrodes, are assembled, energy can be more efficiently harvested from vibrations with a broadband of amplitudes. A total of three parameters (the active area-to-volume ratio, the power-to-volume ratio, and the power-to-weight ratio), which are important parameters for 3D-integrated TENGs, are proposed. The results of this research show that capsule TENGs are versatile devices that can potentially be used for the efficient harvesting of ambient vibration energy.