Biodegradable triboelectric nanogenerators (TENGs) for tracking individual biomedical parameters have gained much interest in the past few years. Now, a new breakthrough has been established as reported in the journal Nano Energy, describing a water-soluble TENG that is safe and biodegradable.
Study: Fully Biodegradable Water-soluble Triboelectric Nanogenerator for Human Physiological Monitoring. Image Credit: metamorworks/Shutterstock.com
The rapid growth of wearable and portable electronic gadgets has resulted in many unused batteries and electrical boards, polluting the environment significantly. As a result, there is a desire to develop self-powered electronic gadgets to lessen environmental impact. Triboelectric nanogenerators (TENGs) are a novel technique for addressing these issues.
The TENG absorbs potential power obtained from ambient mechanical operations and turns it into electrical energy to constantly power most nanotechnology devices using a combination of electrostatic interaction and electrostatic induction. Furthermore, typical medical surveillance equipment is cumbersome and must be installed in specific locations, resulting in increased cost of medical treatment.
Current Wearable TENGs
Currently, the most common materials utilized as electrification layers for flexible or wearable TENGs are from metals and polymers, both of which have outstanding electrochemical output capabilities. Even though these polymers and metals have good triboelectrification, the materials are difficult to recycle and decompose, and their widespread usage may result in resource environmental pollution. One of TENG's key research goals is to create renewable, adaptable, and ecologically degradable resources like starch, cellulose, gelatin, and chitosan.
Reusing environmentally friendly waste materials is an efficient strategy to combat pollution and energy shortages. Wasted office printing sheets made of cellulose are frequently directly buried or burnt as rubbish since they are an economical and degradable substance that can be observed everywhere in everyday life.
A New Discovery: Water Soluble TENG
Water-soluble TENG (WS-TENG) was discovered, which is made from recovered waste printing sheets and can be thoroughly cleaned with deionized water. Graphite powder is also bonded to the water-soluble tape, resulting in water-soluble electrodes with excellent conductivity. While pure cellulose nanocrystal (CNC) or CNC film is translucent and brittle, it has a natural affinity for composites and retains an interfacial bonding with filling under stress.
The Methods of WS-TENG Manufacturing
Combining cellulose as a nanofiller with the other biodegradable polymers is a viable method for making WS-TENG. A composite film with outstanding transparency, electrification, flexibility, and biodegradability, which can be promptly decomposed in deionized water at a temperature, is increased by combining CNC as a nanofiller to Methylcellulose (MC) film.
Water-soluble insulation material is used to link the two opposing ends of the opposite end, as well as the backside of the Methylcellulose MC sheet in the lower section, which may be directly applied to human flesh without causing discomfort.
The WS-TENG is a disposable wristband sensor enabling real-time monitoring of patient respiratory and physical signals. It is minimal price, light-weight, biodegradable, and completely water-soluble. After completing its objective, the entire device can be rinsed with distilled water, allowing the composite and electrification layers and the graphite powder to dissolve totally.
The WS-TENG can be applied to the patient's abdominal area as a clinical sensor to track the human body's systems in real-time via breathing rate.
The Advantage of WS-TENG
The sustainable, environmental, and biodegradable components used in the development of the water-soluble WS-TENG may give more options in clinical monitoring and the tracking of human biomedical parameters in the future.
When the WS-TENG signal is used in the medical industry, it can detect respiratory ailments (such as hyperthyroidism, bronchial asthma, and nerve sufferers) with atypical symptoms. As a result, if a medical professional notices an aberrant signal, the WS-TENG can prevent mishaps. Furthermore, water-insoluble substances may be readily removed from the water and reused, lowering manufacturing costs by reducing resource waste.
CNC, tracing tape base, and graphite powder can be removed and collected from water with a simple filtering process, and the device will not pollute water resources. Furthermore, the WS-TENG is simple, environmentally safe, and portable, making it suitable for various applications outside energy harvesting, such as medical image monitoring in the medical industry. Other components of the body's signals can also be also monitored.
Due to its great sensitivity, WS-TENG may produce various output signals on different joints, indicating its promising implications in preventing and detecting human joint disorders. Biodegradation tests reveal that all of TENG's ingredients might be entirely decomposed in the water around 40 days.
Future research can explore how to dissolve in a shorter amount of time. The WS-TENGs are a promising sustainable micro-power source for environmental monitoring, medical instruments, and other applications by gathering energy from wind, heart motion, and other sources without the risk of polluting the environment.
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Wang, T., et al. (2021) Fully Biodegradable Water-soluble Triboelectric Nanogenerator for Human Physiological Monitoring. Nano Energy. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2211285521010363?via%3Dihub