Triboelectric nanogenerators (TENGs), which produce power by electrostatic charges through the friction of two surfaces with different materials, are promising candidates for small-scale energy harvesters. A simplified approach to the fabrication of such devices, based on the use of conventional double-sided tape and a metalized polyester film, has been advanced by researchers from Materials Sciences LLC (Pennsylvania) and the University of Alabama.

The TENG extends previous research demonstrating that these systems can be assembled with tape, plastic and metal. The researchers configured these components together in a way that brings their performance up to that of more complex, expensive versions. Layers of commonly available double-sided tape and plastic film are sandwiched between thin plates of aluminum. Pressing the layers together momentarily and disconnecting induces a spark; the amount of pressure applied determines the amount of power generated.

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One such TENG assembly featuring two electrodes was demonstrated to produce a power density of 169.6 W/m2, which is considerably greater than that achieved with previous designs. The device was also used to light up an array of 400 LEDs and to power a laser diode by simply pressing on its layers.

The sticky design approach described in ACS Omega could help meet the larger power demands for self-powering electronics with simpler and cheaper materials.

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