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Researchers improve thin film energy harvester efficiency

Editorial
article image The piezoelectric nanogenerator has world-record power conversion efficiency, almost 40 times higher than previously reported similar research results.

SOUTH Korean researchers have increased nanogenerator power efficiency, taking a step closer toward the commercialisation of flexible energy harvesters for implants.

The researchers from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) have increased the energy efficiency of a piezoelectric nanogenerator on a plastic substrate. These flexible devices convert kinetic energy from vibrations into electrical power.

With the ability to harvest energy from wind, water flow, heartbeats, machine vibration, and diaphragmn and respiration activities, these nanogenerators have both industrial and biomedical applications.

Until now, poor energy efficiency and a complex fabrication process have posed challenges to the commercialisation of nanogenerators. Keon Jae Lee, Associate Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at KAIST, and his colleagues have recently proposed a solution by developing a robust technique to transfer a high-quality piezoelectric thin film from bulk sapphire substrates to plastic substrates using laser lift-off (LLO).

The process allowed the research team to produce large-area PZT thin film nanogenerators on flexible substrates (2cm x 2cm).

“We were able to convert a high-output performance of ~250 V from the slight mechanical deformation of a single thin plastic substrate. Such output power is just enough to turn on 100 LED lights,” Keon Jae Lee explained.

The piezoelectric nanogenerator has world-record power conversion efficiency, almost 40 times higher than previously reported similar research results.

The next step in the research is to build three-dimensional stacking of the piezoelectric thin films to enhance output power, and doing clinical experiments with a flexible nanogenerator.

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