2D material underpins world’s thinnest electric generator

Technology News |
By eeNews Europe

The discovery paves the way to the development of the world’s thinnest electric generator and mechanosensation devices that are optically transparent, light, bendable and stretchable.

In a paper published online in Nature, research groups from the two institutions demonstrated the mechanical generation of electricity from the two-dimensional MoS2 material. The piezoelectric effect in this material had previously been predicted theoretically.

Piezoelectricity is a well-known effect in which stretching or compressing a material causes it to generate an electrical voltage (or the reverse, in which an applied voltage causes it to expand or contract). But for materials of only a few atomic thicknesses, no experimental observation of piezoelectricity has been made, until now.

The observation reported today provides a new property for two-dimensional materials such as molybdenum disulfide, opening the potential for new types of mechanically
controlled electronic devices.

“This material – just a single layer of atoms – could be made as a wearable device, perhaps integrated into clothing, to convert energy from your body movement to
electricity and power wearable sensors or medical devices, or perhaps supply enough energy to charge your cell phone in your pocket,” explained James Hone, professor of mechanical engineering at Columbia and co-leader of the research.

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