Silicon surface increases the power of self-contained power sources

Research from Australia’s Curtin University has discovered an effective way to improve the output of self-contained power sources commonly used to power essential mining equipment in underground or remote locations without power outlets and where batteries are not available. practice.

Published in the journal ‘Nano Energy’, the research found that using silicon on the surfaces of self-contained power sources, namely triboelectric nanogenerators (TENGs), dramatically increased both the voltage and the duration of the output, which meant that equipment could be kept charged much longer than was previously possible.

TENGS are used in the mining industry to operate remote sensors that measure oxygen levels, temperature, gas leaks, vibration and pressure, after which they send the information back to a monitoring station.

Principal Investigator of Curtin’s School of Molecular and Life Sciences, Assoc. Professor Simone Ciampi said the discovery could both increase efficiency and reduce costs for mining and similar industries.

Ciampi said the technology could also be used in self-powered traffic lights. (Gina Sanders/Adobe Stock)

“When you’re in a remote location, or maybe underground and don’t have access to traditional power sources, we need to make sure there’s another form of power we can rely on” , she said.

“Self-powered technologies such as TENGs work similarly to static electricity. Most of us have felt the ‘shock’ of touching a metal object after putting on a sweater or walking on a rug. It occurs as a result of a buildup of charge whenever two different materials (such as our body and fabric) come into contact with each other.

“These TENGs are extremely useful in remote situations due to their ability to convert mechanical energy from vibration or pressure into electricity. However, this type of power output is short-lived and cannot run a device for a long time,” Ciampi said.

She went on to say that the team came up with an innovative solution to this problem by cutting the silicon crystal in a different way than had been done before.

It’s all in the cut

Ciampi told The Epoch Times via email Monday that Si(211) or Si(100) refers to how silicon crystal is cut, explaining that unlike surfaces such as charcoal, cutting a surface silicon that has a crystalline structure can give different results depending on how you cut it.

The Si(211) cut is the research team’s new innovation while the Si(100) cut refers to silicon crystals commonly used in computers.

“Electrons have a different propensity to leave (or enter) these different surfaces and the amount of ‘energy’ produced from a surface depends on the type of surface and how you cut the bulk material”, Ciampi said.

“We were able to show that by cutting the silicon surface along the ‘211’ direction, we were able to improve the “energy” of the silicon surface and therefore improve both the voltage and the duration of the power. output up to 10 times longer.

Epoch Times Photo
Pacemakers may be another candidate for this technology. (angkhan/Adobe Stock)

Ciampi added that in addition to this new technology used in the mining industry, it has the potential to play a major role in other situations where little energy is consumed but energy is critical and cannot be stopped.

“For example, this technology could be used for traffic lights or pacemakers, which currently rely on different power sources, such as batteries, to ensure they are running all the time,” he said. she declared.

Steve Milne


Steve is a Sydney-based Australian journalist covering sport, arts and politics. He is an experienced English teacher, qualified nutritionist, sports enthusiast and amateur musician. Contact him at [email protected]

Rosemary C. Kearney