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Liquid metal electrode makes superstretchy nanogenerator

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Wearable electronics could be getting stretchier
thanks to flexible electrodes made from a liquid metal alloy. Researchers used the electrodes to create
devices that harvest energy from human movement to power small, portable gadgets or, in this
example, a bunch of LEDs. Wearable electronics have many promising applications
for fitness, health monitoring, communication and more. But powering these devices and keeping the
wearer comfortable is tricky because traditional electronics don’t bend and flex with the
human body. Flexible triboelectric nanogenerators could
potentially power these wearables. Triboelectricity is generated when two dissimilar
materials press together and separate. Nanogenerators collect the energy produced
in tiny patches across the device. Researchers have made flexible triboelectric
nanogenerators before by mixing conductive particles like carbon nanotubes with a flexible
material, but those devices have limited stretchability. Now, a team at Soochow University has developed
a super-stretchy triboelectric nanogenerator using liquid Galinstan–a mix of gallium,
indium, and tin–as a flexible electrode, encased by silicone rubber. The silicone and a person’s skin provide the
generator with the dissimilar materials. The Galinstan then conducts the generated
charge to power electronics. The electrode remains conductive even when
the device is bent in half or stretched up to three times its length. The team tested multiple forms of the liquid
metal-based nanogenerator and found the devices were capable of generating power from human
walking, arm shaking, and hand tapping. Georgia Tech’s Zhong Lin Wang, a pioneer
in the field of triboelectric generators, said the approach effectively extends the
stretchability of triboelectric nanogenerators and opens up new material choices for the
devices. The Soochow University team said that with
further refinement it expects liquid metal-based nanogenerators will be able to drive even
higher-power devices like smart watches.

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1 thought on “Liquid metal electrode makes superstretchy nanogenerator”

  1. huyked says:

    1:58 I did not know scientists had such incredible moves! 😉

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