Energy harvester collects energy from sunlight and raindrops

March 8, 2018 by Lisa Zyga, feature
Hybrid device harvests energy from sunlight and raindrops: A transparent PDMS nanogenerator integrated with a silicon solar cell by sharing a mutual electrode made of PEDOT:PSS film. Credit: Liu et al. ©2018 American Chemical Society

By attaching a transparent nanogenerator to a silicon solar cell, researchers have designed a device that harvests solar energy in sunny conditions and the mechanical energy of falling raindrops in rainy conditions. The dual functionality may provide a way to harvest energy with greater consistency in the midst of constantly changing weather conditions.

The researchers, Yuqiang Liu et al., at Soochow University in China, have published a paper on the hybrid device in a recent issue of ACS Nano.

The hybrid device consists of a conventional and a triboelectric nanogenerator (TENG), which converts the of falling into electricity. Although previous research has shown that these two types of devices can be connected with an extra wire, in the new design the solar cell and TENG are integrated by sharing a mutual .

"The biggest breakthrough in this work is that an integrated generator composed of a solar cell and a TENG was demonstrated through sharing a mutual electrode," coauthor Zhen Wen at Soochow University told "Compared to previous work, the simple design of the mutual electrode reduces the number of functional layers, which greatly improves the output efficiency."

The shared electrode not only results in a more compact design, but it also offers advantages to both the solar cell and TENG. In particular, the TENG protects the solar cell by acting as a waterproof barrier and prevents water from penetrating the silicon. The textured electrode surface also greatly suppresses unwanted reflection of light, enhancing light harvesting. Further, the textured surface results in a greater contact area between the TENG and falling rain drops, which improves the overall performance of the nanogenerator.

One challenge that remains to be addressed is the minor drawback that the solar cell and TENG cannot function simultaneously.

"Due to the design of the mutual electrode, the solar cell and nanogenerator cannot work together," Wen said. "So if there is a sunshower (sunshine and raindrops appearing at the same time), we have to give up one function of the hybrid generator. But I don't think that is often the case."

In the future, the researchers plan to explore integrating the hybrid device into electronic clothing.

"Due to the unique design, it has advantages of being lightweight and having a high efficiency," Wen said. "We are now designing a fiber-shaped device and expect to weave them together as a fabric. My wish is to fabricate clothing that can generate electricity from sunshine and raindrops, and then use this electricity to power wearable electronic devices."

Explore further: With a TENG, solar cells could work come rain or shine

More information: Yuqiang Liu et al. "Integrating a Silicon Solar Cell with a Triboelectric Nanogenerator via a Mutual Electrode for Harvesting Energy from Sunlight and Raindrops." ACS Nano. DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.8b00416

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1.6 / 5 (7) Mar 08, 2018
It is articles like this that illustrate how vapid the media is and how gullible the general public is. The only saving grace is that is was Chinese money that was wasted on this project and not US money.
4.4 / 5 (7) Mar 08, 2018
MR-Not-Invented-Here, jealous much?

Sure, this is yet another small step forward to gaining dispersed, diversified, local energy sources.

Sorry it wasn't 'miraculous' enough for you. Better luck the next ten thousand steps on the thousand paths of our journey to try and salvage a future for humanity and the singular Living World, available for habitation.
1 / 5 (5) Mar 08, 2018
In 300 years and $500 billion dollars we will make this pay off for America.
1 / 5 (4) Mar 08, 2018
From the paper--------"The increasing contact area between the imprinted PDMS and water drops greatly improves the output of the TENG with a peak short-circuit current of ∼33.0 nA and a peak open-circuit voltage of ∼2.14 "

So lets be generous and say it puts out 75 NANOwatts but not really since they are talking about open and short circuited conditions. Call it 35 nanowatt pulses at an unknown repetition rate. RRW even your greenwashed brain should be able to comprehend how miniscule that is.
1 / 5 (4) Mar 08, 2018
As an example the static discharge you sometions get when walking on carpet is about 5 millijoules or roughly 100,000 x the power output of this device.
3 / 5 (2) Mar 08, 2018
Looks like the end of Coal?
5 / 5 (1) Mar 09, 2018
It is articles like this that illustrate how vapid the media is and how gullible the general public is
The only question which matters here is how much energy this device produces during its life time and how much energy it will consume its development, production, installation, maintenance and recycling (including the cost of soil which it will cover). I presume, these two energies would differ by factor of thousand if not more. If such a calculation is missing in research report, then it just means, that the researchers are embezzling the money of tax payers by wasting them for research of solutions which only make energetic situation worse. The problem with energy of rain harvesters is, the energy of water droplets is mostly consumed by air after few seconds of free fall and you cannot get more than energy from few hundred meters altitude, which is quite minute.
1 / 5 (2) Mar 09, 2018
The hidden damage done by such research is even greater if we realize that money for production research are always limited and that such a dull ineffective research is blocking the human and financial resources for this really productive one, like the research of overunity and/or cold fusion, which are delayed by nearly one century. Both laymen people both contemporary scientists are careless like little children in kindergarten until their money are going - but every fun comes with its price soon or later.
1 / 5 (4) Mar 09, 2018
If Lisa Zyga, the reporter, had any sort of personal ethics she would forget what she was taught in journalism school about the end justifying the means and either refuse to publish the article or expose it for the fraud it is. As presented one would think that this was a real solution to a problem.
5 / 5 (2) Mar 09, 2018
All you brilliant inventor types with your long list of registered patents and working prototypes and in-production devices...

{...crickets chirping...}

Hop into your time machines and go back to stop Thomas Edison pre-1878. Command him to cease and desist from continuing any farther with developing the incandescent-bulb to the point it would be ready for manufacture and public sale.

Cause you know so much better than he did. You won't put up with a thousand fails.

And while you've got him there, all those other inventions? Such as the kinetoscope, will be such obvious failures that he should just retire and go hang himself in shame.

Because he failed to meet your expectations.

The bastard!

Oh hey! While you are back there? Prevent the Wright brothers from learning to fix bicycles. So later, they won't be wasting tax money on foolish nonsense such as inventing airplanes.

Who'd ever heard of such an obvious fraudulent scheme?

1 / 5 (1) Mar 09, 2018
Look RRW I am a big fan of basic research. Also I am sure that their skills in nanotechnology assembly will help mankind. I only ask that they present their findings in a truthful manner and not make grossly exaggerated claims.

Perhaps this is part of the issue. These might not be the researchers words but a university press release.

not rated yet Mar 10, 2018
MR166m you won't get any argument from me about sharing a dislike for clickbait headlines.

It's still amuses me to yank the chains to the collars of all you cranks.
not rated yet Mar 10, 2018
RRW my link was not so much about click bait as it was about universities press departments lack of journalistic ethics. I find that unacceptable.
not rated yet Mar 11, 2018
Mr166, perhaps the problem is you?

If all the university press consider that your submissions are "not-ready-for-prime time"? Perhaps you should reconsider whether or not you are accomplishing professional-level work?

Insisting that there is a mass conspiracy to deny your glory? In which case, prima-facie, you qualify as a crank.

An honest self-appraisal is in order.

Then, prove them all wrong!

By physically producing, at the minimum. A working prototype that utilizes your theories.

Not a manifesto describing what you cannot physically produce.

Not a hollybollyhonglywood F/X u-tubing video.

But an actually working device that your detractors can test for themselves.

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