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July, 2016

In this Letter, we report a piezoelectric nanogenerator that was fabricated using a simple, fast and scalable template-assisted electrodeposition process, by which vertically aligned zinc oxide (ZnO) nanowires were directly grown within a nanoporous polycarbonate (PC) template. The nanowires, having average diameter 184 nm and length 12 μm, are polycrystalline and have a preferred orientation of the [100] axis parallel to the long axis. The output power density of a nanogenerator fabricated from the as-grown ZnO nanowires still embedded within the PC template was found to be 151 ± 25 mW m−3 at an impedance-matched load, when subjected to a low-level periodic (5 Hz) impacting force akin to gentle finger tapping. An energy conversion efficiency of ~4.2% was evaluated for the electrodeposited ZnO nanowires, and the ZnO–PC composite nanogenerator was found to maintain good energy harvesting performance through 24 h of continuous fatigue testing. This is particularly significant given that ZnO-based nanostructures typically suffer from mechanical and/or environmental degradation that otherwise limits their applicability in vibrational energy harvesting. Our template-assisted synthesis of ZnO nanowires embedded within a protective polymer matrix through a single growth process is thus attractive for the fabrication of low-cost, robust and stable nanogenerators.

Figure: Schematic of the fabrication procedure for vertically aligned zinc oxide (ZnO) NWs grown within polycarbonate (PC) templates via electrodeposition, and the electrical output of the ZnO-PC nanocomposite nanogenerator when subjected to low-amplitude and low-frequency vibrations.

Francesca L Boughey, Timothy Davies, Anuja Datta, Richard A Whiter, Suman-Lata Sahonta and Sohini Kar-Narayan, 2016, “Vertically aligned zinc oxide nanowires electrodeposited within porous polycarbonate templates for vibrational energy harvesting”, Nanotechnology 27 (2016) 28LT02

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