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Nanogenerators and Sensors


Dr Sohini Kar-Narayan

There is presently a growing demand for electronic devices that are wireless, portable, wearable and/or implantable. Harvesting energy from ambient sources offers a clean and competitive energy solution that goes beyond traditional power sources such as batteries that require constant replacing/recharging, and that do not scale easily with size.  Energy harvesting technologies are thus vital to the development of future self-powered devices. Our research primarily focuses on vibrational energy harvesting. In this context, piezoelectric materials offer the simplest means of directly converting mechanical vibrations into electrical power, and are well suited for micro-scale device applications. In particular, nanoscale piezoelectric energy harvesters, or “nanogenerators”, are capable of converting ambient vibrations that are typically small into electrical energy to power devices such as wireless sensors for applications in structural/environmental monitoring, healthcare and energy management, to name a few. Nanogenerators based on novel piezoelectric nanocomposite materials being developed in our group may have applications that extend to pyroelectric generators for thermal energy harvesting from ambient waste heat sources. In addition, these nanogenerators may themselves be implemented as sensitive self-powered sensors for applications ranging from early-fault detection systems to robotics to mechano-biology.