Correlating redox properties of organic materials with triboelectric charge-separation – from basic understanding to novel materials for efficient triboelectric energy harvesting

In some combinations of materials, charge separation occurs at their interface when the materials are rubbed against each other. This phenomenon is called the triboelectric effect. It is also apparent in everyday life: one of many examples is the static electricity that can occur when brushing hair with a plastic comb.

This effect can be exploited to harvest mechanical energy from the surroundings in functional materials systems. The goal of this project is to increase the performance of triboelectric nanogenerators used for energy harvesting by developing novel organic materials that will make charge separation more efficient.

Part of this project is the fundamental study of how the redox activity of organic moieties influences triboelectric charge separation. This will be done using techniques such as atomic force microscopy (AFM). Theoretical investigations will provide insight into the physical origins of charge separation at interfaces and allow for selecting the best organic moieties for incorporation into polymers. Synthesis of these polymers and their application in macroscopic devices will then be the basis for further investigations.

Prof. Dr. Birgit Esser

Principal Investigator
Prof. Dr. Birgit Esser

Responsible Investigator
Dr. Bizan Balzer

Postdoctoral Researcher
Dr. Rekha Sharma

Doctoral Researcher
Qiwei Hu