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Automatic Mode Transition Enabled Robust Triboelectric Nanogenerators

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posted on 22.12.2015, 00:00 by Jun Chen, Jin Yang, Hengyu Guo, Zhaoling Li, Li Zheng, Yuanjie Su, Zhen Wen, Xing Fan, Zhong Lin Wang
Although the triboelectric nanogenerator (TENG) has been proven to be a renewable and effective route for ambient energy harvesting, its robustness remains a great challenge due to the requirement of surface friction for a decent output, especially for the in-plane sliding mode TENG. Here, we present a rationally designed TENG for achieving a high output performance without compromising the device robustness by, first, converting the in-plane sliding electrification into a contact separation working mode and, second, creating an automatic transition between a contact working state and a noncontact working state. The magnet-assisted automatic transition triboelectric nanogenerator (AT-TENG) was demonstrated to effectively harness various ambient rotational motions to generate electricity with greatly improved device robustness. At a wind speed of 6.5 m/s or a water flow rate of 5.5 L/min, the harvested energy was capable of lighting up 24 spot lights (0.6 W each) simultaneously and charging a capacitor to greater than 120 V in 60 s. Furthermore, due to the rational structural design and unique output characteristics, the AT-TENG was not only capable of harvesting energy from natural bicycling and car motion but also acting as a self-powered speedometer with ultrahigh accuracy. Given such features as structural simplicity, easy fabrication, low cost, wide applicability even in a harsh environment, and high output performance with superior device robustness, the AT-TENG renders an effective and practical approach for ambient mechanical energy harvesting as well as self-powered active sensing.