A Purdue University scientist has developed methods to harvest energy which may self-power wearables and other electronic devices. He got his inspiration after watching movie technology that showed robots perform self-repair through a liquid formula.
The Purdue team was led by Wenzhuo Wu, the Ravi and Eleanor Talwar Rising Star Assistant Professor of Industrial Engineering.
The market for self-powering technology is predicted to be a $480 million market by 2028, according to IDTechEx.
“Our work presents an important step toward the practical realization of self-powered, human-integrated technologies,” Wu said.
The team invented a liquid-metal-inclusion based triboelectric nanogenerator, called LMI-TENG. Triboelectric energy harvesting transducers – devices which help conserve mechanical energy and turn it into power.
The LMI-TENG can harvest and sense the biomechanical signals from the body and use those to help power and direct technological devices. The LMI-TENG consists of a layer of liquid metal embedded functional silicone sandwiched between two Ecoflex layers.
“We realized that liquid represents the ultimate form of anything that can be deformable and morphing into different shapes,” Wu said. “Our technology will enable wearable electronics to take otherwise wasted energy and transform it into energy that can power and control electronic devices and tools used in military defense and consumer applications. Our technology allows the synergistic engineering of TENG components at the material, structural and output levels.”
The Purdue technology is featured in the February edition of the Journal of Materials Chemistry A, which named it one of 2019’s HOT papers.