The Nanogenerator Making Sustainable, Smart Homes a Reality

In an article recently published in the ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering, researchers address the drawbacks of cellulose-based triboelectric nanogenerators to improve the potential use of wood nanogenerators in smart homes. 

The Nanogenerator Making Sustainable, Smart Homes a Reality

Study: Dyeing-Inspired Sustainable and Low-Cost Modified Cellulose-Based TENG for Energy Harvesting and Sensing. Image Credit: Andrey Suslov/

Home Automation – A Growing Trend

The automated control of technological gadgets in a house is known as home automation, which integrates various fields of technology including artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT).  

Large electronics are currently performed fully by relying on a generic electrochemical source of power, including the likes of batteries and supercapacitors, due to their technical maturity and broad availability. However, because of the high stiffness of these traditional energy supply architectures, they can only resist little deformation, limiting the continuing downsizing of electronic devices. While this is something that quantum engineers are working on, a pragmatic approach has been considered and reviewed.

TENG – A Sensational Energy Generator

A self-sufficient form of renewable source, the triboelectric nanogenerator (TENG), was first exhibited around 2012. TENGs have shown promise as electronic equipment power sources and as sensors for chemical and mechanical inputs. The mechanical power source for triboelectrification could range from natural energy like rain or wind to daily physical movement. Charges are segregated on the contact area of TENG devices, while an electromotive force is created between them.

The alternating potential generated by moving physical motions can be saved in a storage unit or utilized to power electric equipment. Furthermore, the TENG's potential or current profiles may be employed as sensory outputs to monitor the physical or chemical stimuli that are applied to TENGs.

Review of Research on TENGs

TENGs have made significant progress as a long-term power source and as a self-powered sensor in terms of ease of assembly, high power density, stability, and cost-effectiveness. However, due to the inherent constraints of electrification, devices with a single triboelectric functionality still have power, sensing range, sensitivity, and sensing domain restrictions.

To attain better power output and broader application cases in sensing, multipurpose triboelectric devices with a mix of various energy transferring mechanisms such as piezoelectric, photovoltaic, and electromagnetic have been proposed.

The Authors’ Contribution

In this paper, the authors discussed a method to sense and harvest the energy produced by residents of a house for smart home automation purposes. They developed a simple cellulose-based approach for processing and altering natural wood to meet energy needs. Natural wood was chosen due to its biodegradability, low cost, and plentiful availability.

A coupling of triboelectric nanogenerator (TENG) with flexible wood provides a maintainable solution to a smart home. Brittleness, poor crystalline structure, and low surface charge density are all major obstacles to producing a cellulose-based TENG.

The team solved the low surface charge density by using dye-inspired techniques. This caused the surface charge potential to increase twofold as compared to the original one, resulting in an increase in the polarity on the surface. As a result, more energy could be harvested.

Ultimately, the idea for a sensing smart floor that is also self-powered was further developed using this enhanced cellulose-based TENG to enable real-time movement monitoring for smart homes. From an integrated viewpoint, this study not only reduces wood brittleness but also proposes a unique approach to increase the charge on the wood's surface, which is critical for the use of wood inside the nanogenerator sector.

Future Work

While this research pushes the frontiers for meeting the energy requirements of smart homes, a fresh multidisciplinary perspective on efficient tribo-layer materials optimization is provided.

With the fields of renewable energy being exhaustively researched, one can hope to see self-sufficient smart home infrastructures in the near future.


Yao, L., Zhou, Z., Zhang, Z., Du, X., Zhang, Q.-L., and Yang, H. (2022). Dyeing-Inspired Sustainable and Low-Cost Modified Cellulose-Based TENG for Energy Harvesting and Sensing. ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering. Available at:

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Shaheer Rehan

Written by

Shaheer Rehan

Shaheer is a graduate of Aerospace Engineering from the Institute of Space Technology, Islamabad. He has carried out research on a wide range of subjects including Aerospace Instruments and Sensors, Computational Dynamics, Aerospace Structures and Materials, Optimization Techniques, Robotics, and Clean Energy. He has been working as a freelance consultant in Aerospace Engineering for the past year. Technical Writing has always been a strong suit of Shaheer's. He has excelled at whatever he has attempted, from winning accolades on the international stage in match competitions to winning local writing competitions. Shaheer loves cars. From following Formula 1 and reading up on automotive journalism to racing in go-karts himself, his life revolves around cars. He is passionate about his sports and makes sure to always spare time for them. Squash, football, cricket, tennis, and racing are the hobbies he loves to spend his time in.


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