Scientists Create Self-powered Nanosensor

ATLANTA, March 29 (UPI) — U.S. scientists say they’ve combined a new generation of piezoelectric nanogenerators with nanowire sensors to create a self-powered sensing device.

Georgia Institute of Technology researchers say their self-powered nanometer-scale sensing device is believed to be the world’s first that draws power from the conversion of mechanical energy.


The scientists led by Professor Zhong Lin Wang said the new device can measure the pH of liquids or detect the presence of ultraviolet light using electrical current produced from mechanical energy in the environment.

Based on arrays containing as many as 20,000 zinc oxide nanowires in each nanogenerator, the device can produce up to 1.2 volts of output voltage, and is fabricated with a chemical process designed to facilitate low-cost manufacture on flexible substrates, the scientists said.

“We have demonstrated a robust way to harvest energy and use it for powering nanometer-scale sensors,” Wang said. “We now have a technology roadmap for scaling these nanogenerators up to make truly practical applications.”

Details of the improved nanogenerator and self-powered nanosensors appear in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

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