Maher El-Kady, University of California, Los Angeles
Green, Biodegradable and Implantable Energy Storage and Conversion Devices
Written by Tianyu Liu
Did yesterday’s snow in Boston interrupt your travel to the Meeting? Before you curse the snow, I would like to let you know that Maher El-Kady from the University of California, Los Angeles, believed that snow was more than a troublemaker. His research team developed an energy harvesting device that could harvest electricity from the snow! The device, termed snow-based triboelectric nanogenerator (snow-TENG), was made by printing a conductive polymer layer onto a silicone rubber substrate.
The functionality of the snow-TENG relies on the triboelectric effect, a phenomenon of electric static charge generation due to friction. When snowflakes fall on the tilted silicone surface and roll downward, the friction between the two phases creates negative charges in the silicone and positive charges in the snowflakes. The conductive polymer layer then transports the negative charges to external electric circuits and form electricity. The snow-TENG could generate an instantaneous power density of 0.2 mW/m2, a current density of 40 μA/m2, and an open-circuit voltage of 8 V. If installed onto shoe bottoms, this portable device could charge your electronics when you are walking in the snowy streets of Boston.