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Harry Radousky, Fang Qian, Yonghao An, Zhidan Zeng, Gongming Wang, Yat Li, Luman Qu, Gergely Zemanyi, and Y. Morris Wang; Harvesting Mechanical and Thermal Energy by Combining ZnO Nanowires and NiTi Shape Memory Alloy; Advanced NanoMaterials and Technologies for Energy Sector; 2017:1(1): 13-20
In the expanding world of small scale energy harvesting, the ability to combine thermal and mechanical harvesting is growing ever more important. We have demonstrated the feasibility of using ZnO nanowires to harvest both mechanical and low-quality thermal energy in simple, scalable devices. These devices were fabricated on kapton films and used ZnO nanowires with the same growth direction to assure alignment of the piezoelectric potentials of all of the wires. Mechanical harvesting from these devices was demonstrated using a periodic application of force, modeling the motion of the human body. Tapping the device from the top of the device with a wood stick, for example yielded an Open Circuit Voltage (OCV) of 0.2 - 4 V, which is in an ideal range for device applications. To demonstrate thermal harvesting from low quality heat sources, a commercially available Nitinol (Ni-Ti alloy) foil was attached to the nanowire piezoelectric device to create a compound thermoelectric. When bent at room temperature and then heated to 50◦C, the Nitinol foil was restored to its original flat shape, which yielded an output voltage of nearly 1 V from the ZnO nanowire device.