A First-Principles Study of Electro-Mechanical Coupling in Triboelectric Nanogenerators

Student Research Assistant: Ben Kulbago

A First-Principles Study of Electro-Mechanical Coupling in Triboelectric Nanogenerators.


The ultimate goal of this project is to understand the fundamentals of triboelectrification through a first-principles investigation, both experimentally and theoretically. Although triboelectrification has been known about for millennia, the mechanism by which the surfaces are charged and the types of charges that are induced remain as open questions.

In order to respond to these questions and to accomplish the proposed goal, three specific research tasks are proposed: (1) derive an atomistic electrodynamic theory and integrate it into simulations that are directly compared to experiments thereby establishing a baseline between theory and experiment; (2) investigate the charging mechanism of contact mode triboelectrification and correlate normal strain with the induced, bound charges; and (3) relate the charging mechanism of sliding mode triboelectrification with shear strain, surface roughness, friction cycles and harvesting efficiency.

The outcome of tasks two and three will differentiate the working principles between the contact and sliding modes. All tasks will be performed experimentally and with simulations. The experimental setup consists of an atomic force microscope (AFM) for point triboelectrification and scanning Kelvin probing microscope (SKPM) for the electrical properties measurements as well as two setups for larger area triboelectrification. The PIs will also present a generalized atomistic finite element method (GAFEM) for nanoscale electro-mechanical coupling. Thus, a complete and integrated project consisting of experiments, theory and simulations will be presented for triboelectrification and triboelectric nanogenerators.

Funding Source

National Science Foundation (NSF)