A team of researchers at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST), in partnership with various universities, have shown off a compact, wearable haptic touch sensor powered by triboelectricity — deliberate static electricity generation, in effect.
Triboelectric generators, which produce electricity through contact between different materials, are a great source of battery-free power - but typically too bulky for wearable use. The KIST team's breakthrough: Enhancing the efficiency of the triboelectric effect by over 40 percent, creating a crumple-structure molybdenum disulphide material which can power wearable haptic touch sensors.
"Controlling the internal stress of the semiconductor material is a useful technique in the semiconductor industry, but this was the first time that a material synthesis technique involving synthesis of a two-dimensional semiconductor material and application of internal stress at the same time was implemented," claims KIST's Dr. Seoung-Ki Lee. "It presents a way to increase the triboelectricity generation efficiency by combining the material with a polymer, and it will serve as a catalyst for the development of next-generation functional materials based on two-dimensional substances."
The wrinkled surface of the material boosts the triboelectric generation efficiency by over 40 percent, the researchers found — enough for it to power a prototype lightweight, flexible touch sensor which requires no external power to operate.
The team's work has been published under closed-access terms in the journal Nano Energy.