A new type of ultra-efficient, nano-thin material could advance self-powered electronics, wearable technologies and even deliver pacemakers powered by heart beats.

The flexible and printable piezoelectric material, which can convert mechanical pressure into electrical energy, has been developed by an Australian research team led by RMIT University.

It is 100,000 times thinner than a human hair and 800% more efficient than other piezoelectrics based on similar non-toxic materials.

Importantly, researchers say it can be easily fabricated through a cost-effective and commercially scalable method, using liquid metals.

Lead researcher Dr. Nasir Mahmood said the material, detailed in a new Materials Today study, was a major step towards realizing the full potential of motion-driven, energy-harvesting devices.

“Until now, the best performing nano-thin piezoelectrics have been based on lead, a toxic material that is not suitable for biomedical use,” Mahmood, a Vice-Chancellor’s Research Fellow at RMIT, said.

“Our new material is based on non-toxic zinc oxide, which is also lightweight and compatible with silicon, making it easy to integrate into current electronics.

“It’s so efficient that all you need is a single 1.1 nanometre layer of our material to produce all the energy required for a fully self-powering nanodevice.”

Image Credit:  RMIT

Post by Amanda Scott, NA CEO.  Follow her on twitter @tantriclens

Thanks to Heinz V. Hoenen.  Follow him on twitter: @HeinzVHoenen

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