Comb-structured triboelectric nanogenerators for multi-directional energy scavenging from human movements

A triboelectric nanogenerator (TENG) is an emerging energy harvesting technology utilizing multi-directional, wasted mechanical energies stemming from vibrations, winds, waves, body movements, etc. In this study, we report a comb-structured TENG (CTENG) capable of effectively scavenging multi-directional motions from human movements, which include walking, jumping, and running. By attaching CTENG to a person’s calf, we obtain a root-mean-square (RMS) power value of 5.28 μW (i.e. 13.12 V and 0.4 μA) for 1 s during mild running action (~5 m/s), which is sufficient for powering 10 light emitting diodes (LEDs). We integrate a CTENG with a simple hand-held pendulum (HHP) system with a natural frequency of 5.5 Hz. The natural frequency and input energy of our HHP system can be easily controlled by changing the holder mass and initial bending displacement, thus producing different output behaviors for the CTENG. Under the optimal HHP-based CTENG system design, the maximum output reaches 116 V at 6.5 μA under 0.1 kg mass and 4 cm bending displacement conditions. The corresponding output energy is 52.7 μJ for an operation time of 10.8 s. Our HHP-CTENG system can sufficiently power 45 LEDs and shows different output performances by varying the driving velocity of a vehicle, thus demonstrating the possibility for a self-powered velocity monitoring system.