Posted in | Water | Energy

Slippery and Configurable Liquid Layer Offers Paradigm Shift in Developing Robust and Versatile Energy Devices

There is a demand for innovative methods to deal with the great energy problem due to the constant prosperity and financial growth of people. In this world, water is common, and the search for abundant, clean, and renewable water-related energy is important.

(a) Schematic drawing of the SLIPS-TENG’s fabrication process. (b) Comparison of open-circuit voltage between SLIPS-TENG with SHS-TENG at room temperature of 25 °C under a fixed droplet size of 100 µL. (c) Enhanced stability in the electricity generation of SLIPS-TENG at low temperature (3 °C). (Image credit: Science China Press)

Triboelectric nanogenerators (TENGs), one of several approaches to obtain water energy, are of great interest over the past several years due to their potential to convert mechanical energy into electrical energy. But rapid degeneration of the physiochemical properties of interfacial materials at liquid–solid interfaces under severe conditions, like high humidity, low temperature, or underwater condition, is one of the major logjams for the practical applications of TENGs for water energy.

For instance, the traditional superhydrophobic (SHS)-based TENG (SHS-TENG) has been restricted in the long-term operation under severe conditions due to its undesired biofilm coverage, poor durability, and limited energy efficiency.

A new study has been published in the Beijing-based National Science Review, in which researchers from the City University of Hong Kong, University of Science and Technology of China, East China Normal University, and University of Nebraska-Lincoln have introduced a new example of TENGs that can deal with myriad inherent disadvantages faced by SHS-TENG.

Unlike previous studies, the TENG has been covered by a new slippery lubricant-impregnated porous surface (SLIPS), known as SLIPS-TENG. Surprisingly, the association of a slippery and configurable liquid layer shows several merits, such as self-cleaning, configurability, flexibility, power generation stability, and optical transparency, over the conventional design in many applied conditions. In addition, the SLIPS-TENG could possibly offer several wearable and flexible devices to lend more adaptable performances.

Scientifically, we combine two seemingly different areas, i.e. SLIPS and TENG, together, and report the triboelectricity generation occurred at liquid/liquid interface. In a broader perspective, the marriage of SLIPS with TENG provides a paradigm shift in the design of robust blue energy devices that can be used as a clean and longer lifetime alternative in various working conditions.

Zuankai Wang, Professor, City University of Hong Kong.

This study was financially supported by the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong, Shenzhen Science and Technology Innovation Council, and the City University of Hong Kong.


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