MAY 23, 2018 3:58 PM PDT

Battery-free Toys Powered by Nanogenerators

WRITTEN BY: Daniel Duan

Often you see or hear toy commercials finished with one peculiar tagline: batteries not included. However jokable this may sound, it exposes an inconvenient reality: toys, by the count of millions, consume batteries, particularly disposable alkaline batteries. Some may get carefully processed and properly disposed, while most end up in the landfill.

This begs the question: can we make toys that generate their own electricity?  The arrival of nanogenerator raises the hope of solving this problem once for all. A nanogenerator can convert mechanical energy into electricity.

A team of Korean researchers incorporated specialized nanogenerators known as TENG (Triboelectric nanogenerator) into a popular toy-rubber duckies. These miniature powerhouses allow the toys to gather energy from vibrations from water in the bathtub. This study was reported in the latest issue of ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering.

TENG can generate power via the so-called triboelectric effect (also known as triboelectric charging). Certain materials become electrically charged after they come into frictional contact with another material. Sounds familiar? Rubbing glass with fur, or comb a plastic comb through hair, can build up triboelectricity.

Although not generating much electricity, nanogenerators, many believe, have just enough capacity to power the next generation smart electronics such as battery-free toys, nano/micro-size personal devices, and smart wearable systems.

Source: ACS via Youtube

About the Author
  • Graduated with a bachelor degree in Pharmaceutical Science and a master degree in neuropharmacology, Daniel is a radiopharmaceutical and radiobiology expert based in Ottawa, Canada. With years of experience in biomedical R&D, Daniel is very into writing. He is constantly fascinated by what's happening in the world of science. He hopes to capture the public's interest and promote scientific literacy with his trending news articles. The recurring topics in his Chemistry & Physics trending news section include alternative energy, material science, theoretical physics, medical imaging, and green chemistry.
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