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Self-Powered Flexible Electronics

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rollable transparent nanogenerator

Schematic of a fully rollable transparent nanogenerator based on piezoelectric zinc oxide nanorods sandwiched in between graphene sheets.

Credit: Sang-Woo Kim / Sungkyunkwan University

Sungkyunkwan University (SU) and Samsung researchers have developed a way to capture the piezoelectric power generated when a touchscreen flexes under a user's touch. The researchers have integrated flexible, transparent electrodes with an energy-scavenging material to make a device that could provide supplementary power for portable electronics. The new device places piezoelectric nanorods between highly conductive graphene electrodes on top of flexible plastic sheets.

"The flexibility and rollability of the nano-generators gives us unique application areas such as wireless power sources for future foldable, stretchable, and wearable electronics systems," says SU professor Sang-Woo Kim.

Pressing the screen induces a local change in electrical potential that can be used to sense the location of a finger. The material can generate about 20 nanowatts per square centimeter.

The researchers also have made more powerful devices that produce about a microwatt per square centimeter. This "indicates we can realize self-powered flexible portable devices without any help of additional power sources such as batteries in the near future," Kim says.

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