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Power generation with laterally packaged piezoelectric fine wires


Converting mechanical energy into electricity could have applications in sensing, medical science, defence technology and personal electronics1, and the ability of nanowires to ‘scavenge’ energy from ambient and environmental sources2,3,4 could prove useful for powering nanodevices5,6,7,8. Previously reported nanowire generators9,10,11 were based on vertically aligned piezoelectric nanowires that were attached to a substrate at one end and free to move at the other. However, there were problems with the output stability, mechanical robustness, lifetime and environmental adaptability of such devices. Here we report a flexible power generator that is based on cyclic stretching–releasing of a piezoelectric fine wire that is firmly attached to metal electrodes at both ends, is packaged on a flexible substrate, and does not involve sliding contacts. Repeatedly stretching and releasing a single wire with a strain of 0.05–0.1% creates an oscillating output voltage of up to 50 mV, and the energy conversion efficiency of the wire can be as high as 6.8%.

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Figure 1: Design of a piezoelectric fine wire (PFW) generator on a flexible substrate.
Figure 2: Electrical output of a single-wire generator (SWG).
Figure 3: Connecting two single-wire generators (SWGs) in series.
Figure 4: Proposed mechanism for the generation of current in single-wire generators.


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This research was supported by the US Department of Energy (Basic Energy Sciences), the National Science Foundation, the Emory-Georgia Tech Cancer Centre for Nanotechnology Excellence (funded by the National Institutes of Health) and the US Air Force Office of Scientific Research (FA9550-06-1-0384).

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Z.L.W. and R.S.Y. designed the experiments. R.S.Y., Y.Q. and L.D. performed the experiments. Z.L.W. and R.S.Y. analysed the data and wrote the paper. All authors discussed the results and commented on the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Zhong Lin Wang.

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Yang, R., Qin, Y., Dai, L. et al. Power generation with laterally packaged piezoelectric fine wires. Nature Nanotech 4, 34–39 (2009).

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