By combining the effects of contact electrification and electrostatic induction, triboelectric nanogenerators (TENGs) can effectively convert mechanical energy into electric power or signals. Over the past decade, TENG development has progressed rapidly, from fundamental scientific understanding to advanced technologies and applications. This Primer gives a brief overview of TENGs, including the mechanisms of contact electrification and electrodynamics, applications, future opportunities and limitations. As an interdisciplinary field, advances are expected in both theoretical and experimental aspects of TENGs. For example, technologies based on Maxwell’s equations for a mechano-driven, slow-moving system can be coupled with a theoretical understanding of physical laws and concepts. From this, general simulation models can be established and corresponding experiments designed to optimize TENGs for a range of applications.
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T.H.C. and J.J.S. contributed equally to this work. The authors are grateful for the support from the National Key R&D Project from the Minister of Science and Technology (Nos. 2021YFA1201601 and 2021YFA1201604), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 62001031) and the Youth Innovation Promotion Association, CAS.
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Nature Reviews Methods Primers thanks Jeffrey Snyder and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.
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- Blue energy
The energy captured by triboelectric nanogenerators for harvesting low-frequency water wave energy from the ocean.
- Contact electrification
A scientific effect, primarily through the electron transfer mechanism, where two or more different materials become electrically charged after being separated from physical contact.
- Electrostatic induction
A modification to the distribution of electric charge on one material caused by the influence of nearby materials that have electric charge.
- Energy harvesting devices
Devices that typically produce a small amount of energy through a process that harvests energy from external sources.
- Lorentz covariance
An equivalence of observation, as special relativity implies that the laws of physics are the same for all observers moving with respect to one another within an inertial frame.
- Lumped-parameter equivalent circuit
A theoretical circuit that retains all the electrical characteristics of a given circuit, generally built based on a lumped parameter (or lumped element) model.
- Mechano-induced polarization
Polarization due to pre-existing electrostatic charges and medium movement driven by external mechanical action.
A united process of tribology and interfacial charge transfer, one of the fundamental effects in electricity generation.
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Cheng, T., Shao, J. & Wang, Z.L. Triboelectric nanogenerators. Nat Rev Methods Primers 3, 39 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s43586-023-00220-3