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Keywords:

  • Nanogenerators;
  • fibers;
  • Zinc oxide;
  • nanowires;
  • heartbeat monitoring;
  • biosensors

Abstract

We present a new approach for fabricating flexible fiber nanogenerators (FNGs) that can be used for smart shirts, flexible electronics, and medical applications. These FNGs are based on carbon fibers that are covered cylindrically by textured zinc oxide (ZnO) thin films. Once subjected to uni-compression by applying a pressure, the cylindrical ZnO thin film is under a compressive strain, resulting in a macroscopic piezopotential across its inner and exterior surfaces owing to the textured structure of the film, which is the driving force for generating an electric current in the external load. Using such a structure, an output peak voltage of 3.2 V and average current density of 0.15 μA cm−2 are demonstrated. The FNGs rely on air pressure, so that it can work in a non-contact mode in cases of rotating tires, flowing air/liquid, and even in blood vessels. Pressure-driven FNGs added to a syringe show potential to harvest energy in blood vessels, gas pipes, and oil pipes, as long as there is a fluctuation in pressure (or turbulence). Heart-pulse driven FNGs can serve as ultrasensitive sensors for monitoring the behavior of the human heart, which may possibly be applied to medical diagnostics as sensors and measurement tools.