Flexible thin film nanomaterials produce electricity.
Keon Jae Lee, a professor in KAIST's Department of Materials Science and Engineering, and Zhong Lin Wang, a professor in the same department at Georgia Institute of Technology, have developed new forms of highly efficient, flexible nanogenerator technology using freely bendable piezoelectric ceramic thin film nano-materials that can convert tiny movements of the human body (such as heart beats and blood flow) into electrical energy.

The piezoelectric effect refers to voltage generation when pressure or bending strength is applied to piezoelectric materials. The ceramics, containing a perovskite structure, have a high piezoelectric efficiency. Until now, it has been very difficult to use these ceramic materials to fabricate flexible electronic systems due to their brittle property.

The research team, however, has succeeded in developing a bio-eco-friendly ceramic thin film nanogenerator that is freely bendable without breakdown.

Nanogenerator technology, a power generating system without wires or batteries, combines nanotechnology with piezoelectrics that can be used not only in personal mobile electronics but also in bio-implantable sensors or as an energy source for micro robots. Energy sources in nature (wind, vibration, and sound) and biomechanical forces produced by the human body (heart beats, blood flow, and muscle contraction/relaxation) can infinitely produce nonpolluting energy.

“This technology can be used to turn on an LED by slightly modifying circuits and operate touchable flexible displays,” said Professor Zhong Lin Wang.

View a short video of the nanogenerator below.