Ali Ghaffarinejad, Xabier Garcia-Casas, Fernando Nunez-Galvez, Jorge Budagosky, Vanda Godinho, Carmen Lopez-Santos, Juan Ramon Sanchez-Valencia, Angel Barranco, Ana Borras

arXiv:2405.02464 []

DOI: arXiv.2405.02464

The ultimate step towards the exploitation of water as a clean and renewable energy source addresses the energies stored in the low frequencies of liquid flows, which demands flexible solutions to adapt to multiple scenarios, from raindrops to waves, including water moving in pipelines and microdevices. Thus, harvesting low-frequency flows is a young concept compared to solar and wind powers, where triboelectric nanogenerators have been revealed as the most promising relevant actors. However, despite widespread attempts by researchers, the drop energy harvesters’ output power is still low, mainly because of the limitations in candidates endowed with ideal triboelectric and wetting properties and also the non-optimal and centimetre-scale device architecture that prevents the conversion of the complete kinetic energy of impinging drops. Herein, we disclose a microscale triboelectric nanogenerator that can harvest a high density of electrical power from drops through a single, submillisecond, long-lasting step. The mechanism relies on an instantaneous electrical capacitance variation owing to the high-speed contact of the drops with the electrodes’ active area. We discuss the role of the precharged effect of the triboelectric surface in the time characteristic of the conversion event. The capacitive and microscale structure of the device is endowed with a small form factor that allows for the production of densely packed arrays. The proposed architecture can be adjusted to different liquids and scales and is compatible with a variety of triboelectric surfaces, including flexible, transparent, and thin-film approaches.