Maximized Effective Energy Output of Contact-Separation-Triggered Triboelectric Nanogenerators as Limited by Air Breakdown

Yunlong Zi, Changsheng Wu, Wenbo Ding, Zhong Lin Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Scopus citations


Recent progress in triboelectric nanogenerators (TENGs) has demonstrated their promising potential as a high-efficiency mechanical energy harvesting technology, and plenty of effort has been devoted to improving the power output by maximizing the triboelectric surface charge density. However, due to high-voltage air breakdown, most of the enhanced surface charge density brought by material/surface optimization or external ion injection is not retainable or usable for electricity generation during the operation of contact-separation-triggered TENGs. Here, the existence of the air breakdown effect in a contact-separation mode TENG with a low threshold surface charge density of ≈40–50 µC m−2 is first validated under the high impedance external load, and then followed by the theoretical study of the maximized effective energy output as limited by air breakdown for contact-separation-triggered TENGs. The effects of air pressure and gas composition are also studied and propose promising solutions for reducing the air breakdown effect. This research provides a crucial fundamental study for TENG technology and its further development and applications.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1700049
JournalAdvanced Functional Materials
Issue number24
StatePublished - May 2 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: Y.Z. and C.W. contributed equally to this work. This research was supported by the National Science Foundation (DMR-1505319), the KAUST, the Hightower Chair foundation, and the “Thousands Talents” program for pioneer researcher and his innovation team, China.
This publication acknowledges KAUST support, but has no KAUST affiliated authors.


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