A droplet-based electricity generator with high instantaneous power density.


Beijing Institute of Nanoenergy and Nanosystems, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China. [Email]


Extensive efforts have been made to harvest energy from water in the form of raindrops1-6, river and ocean waves7,8, tides9 and others10-17. However, achieving a high density of electrical power generation is challenging. Traditional hydraulic power generation mainly uses electromagnetic generators that are heavy, bulky, and become inefficient with low water supply. An alternative, the water-droplet/solid-based triboelectric nanogenerator, has so far generated peak power densities of less than one watt per square metre, owing to the limitations imposed by interfacial effects-as seen in characterizations of the charge generation and transfer that occur at solid-liquid1-4 or liquid-liquid5,18 interfaces. Here we develop a device to harvest energy from impinging water droplets by using an architecture that comprises a polytetrafluoroethylene film on an indium tin oxide substrate plus an aluminium electrode. We show that spreading of an impinged water droplet on the device bridges the originally disconnected components into a closed-loop electrical system, transforming the conventional interfacial effect into a bulk effect, and so enhancing the instantaneous power density by several orders of magnitude over equivalent devices that are limited by interfacial effects.

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