Zhong Lin Wang, professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology and his research team have developed a family of power generators that take advantage of the triboelectric effect to produce small amounts of electricity for portable devices and sensors.
According to Wang's research, the triboelectric effect is capable of creating surprising amounts of electric power by rubbing or touching two different materials together. He believes the discovery can provide a new way to power mobile devices such as sensors and smartphones by capturing the otherwise wasted mechanical energy from such regularly available sources as walking, the wind blowing, vibration, ocean waves or even cars driving by.
“This opens up a source of energy by harvesting power from activities of all kinds. In its simplest form, the triboelectric generator uses two sheets of dissimilar materials, one an electron donor, the other an electron acceptor. When the materials are in contact, electrons flow from one material to the other.”