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KAIST Researchers Develops Hyper-Stretchable Elastic-Composite Energy Harvester
A research team led by Professor Keon Jae Lee (http://fand.kaist.ac.kr) of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at KAIST has developed a hyper-stretchable elastic-composite energy harvesting device called a nanogenerator. Flexible electronics have come into the market and are enabling new technologies like flexible displays in mobile phone, wearable electronics, and the Internet of Things (IoTs). However, is the degree of flexibility enough for most applications? For many flexible devices, elasticity is a very important issue. For example, wearable/biomedical devices and electronic skins (e-skins) should stretch to conform to arbitrarily curved surfaces and moving body parts such as joints, diaphragms, and tendons. They must be able to withstand the repeated and prolonged mechanical stresses of stretching. In particular, the development of elastic energy devices is regarded as critical to establish power supplies in stretchable applications. Although several researchers have explored diverse stretchable electronics, due to the absence of the appropriate device structures and correspondingly electrodes, researchers have not developed ultra-stretchable and fully-reversible energy conversion devices properly. Recently, researchers from KAIST and Seoul National University (SNU) have collaborated and demonstrated a facile methodology to obtain a high-performance and hyper-stretchable elastic-composite generator (SEG) using very long silver nanowire-based stretchable electrodes. Their stretchable piezoelectric generator can harvest mechanical energy to produce high power output (~4 V) with large elasticity (~250%) and excellent durability (over 104 cycles). These noteworthy results were achieved by the non-destructive stress- relaxation ability of the unique electrodes as well as the good piezoelectricity of the device components. The new SEG can be applied to a wide-variety of wearable energy-harvesters to transduce biomechanical-stretching energy from the body (or machines) to electrical energy. Professor Lee said, “This exciting approach introduces an ultra-stretchable piezoelectric generator. It can open avenues for power supplies in universal wearable and biomedical applications as well as self-powered ultra-stretchable electronics.” This result was published online in the March issue of Advanced Materials, which is entitled “A Hyper-Stretchable Elastic-Composite Energy Harvester.” YouTube Link: “A hyper-stretchable energy harvester” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBByFvPVRiU&feature=youtu.be Figure: Top row: Schematics of hyper-stretchable elastic-composite generator enabled by very long silver nanowire-based stretchable electrodes. Bottom row: The SEG energy harvester stretched by human hands over 200% strain.
Breakthrough in Flexible Electronics Enabled by Inorganic-based Laser Lift-off
Flexible electronics have been touted as the next generation in electronics in various areas, ranging from consumer electronics to bio-integrated medical devices. In spite of their merits, insufficient performance of organic materials arising from inherent material properties and processing limitations in scalability have posed big challenges to developing all-in-one flexible electronics systems in which display, processor, memory, and energy devices are integrated. The high temperature processes, essential for high performance electronic devices, have severely restricted the development of flexible electronics because of the fundamental thermal instabilities of polymer materials. A research team headed by Professor Keon Jae Lee of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at KAIST provides an easier methodology to realize high performance flexible electronics by using the Inorganic-based Laser Lift-off (ILLO). The ILLO process involves depositing a laser-reactive exfoliation layer on rigid substrates, and then fabricating ultrathin inorganic electronic devices, e.g., high density crossbar memristive memory on top of the exfoliation layer. By laser irradiation through the back of the substrate, only the ultrathin inorganic device layers are exfoliated from the substrate as a result of the reaction between laser and exfoliation layer, and then subsequently transferred onto any kind of receiver substrate such as plastic, paper, and even fabric. This ILLO process can enable not only nanoscale processes for high density flexible devices but also the high temperature process that was previously difficult to achieve on plastic substrates. The transferred device successfully demonstrates fully-functional random access memory operation on flexible substrates even under severe bending. Professor Lee said, “By selecting an optimized set of inorganic exfoliation layer and substrate, a nanoscale process at a high temperature of over 1000 °C can be utilized for high performance flexible electronics. The ILLO process can be applied to diverse flexible electronics, such as driving circuits for displays and inorganic-based energy devices such as battery, solar cell, and self-powered devices that require high temperature processes.” The team’s results were published in the November issue of Wiley’s journal, ‘ Advanced Materials, ’ as a cover article entitled “ Flexible Crossbar-Structured Resistive Memory Arrays on Plastic Substrates via Inorganic-Based Laser Lift-Off.” ( http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/adma.201402472/abstract ) This schematic picture shows the flexible crossbar memory developed via the ILLO process. This photo shows the flexible RRAM device on a plastic substrate.
The First Demonstration of a Self-powered Cardiac Pacemaker
As the number of pacemakers implanted each year reaches into the millions worldwide, improving the lifespan of pacemaker batteries has been of great concern for developers and manufacturers. Currently, pacemaker batteries last seven years on average, requiring frequent replacements, which may pose patients to a potential risk involved in medical procedures. A research team from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), headed by Professor Keon Jae Lee of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at KAIST and Professor Boyoung Joung, M.D. of the Division of Cardiology at Severance Hospital of Yonsei University, has developed a self-powered artificial cardiac pacemaker that is operated semi-permanently by a flexible piezoelectric nanogenerator. The artificial cardiac pacemaker is widely acknowledged as medical equipment that is integrated into the human body to regulate the heartbeats through electrical stimulation to contract the cardiac muscles of people who suffer from arrhythmia. However, repeated surgeries to replace pacemaker batteries have exposed elderly patients to health risks such as infections or severe bleeding during operations. The team’s newly designed flexible piezoelectric nanogenerator directly stimulated a living rat’s heart using electrical energy converted from the small body movements of the rat. This technology could facilitate the use of self-powered flexible energy harvesters, not only prolonging the lifetime of cardiac pacemakers but also realizing real-time heart monitoring. The research team fabricated high-performance flexible nanogenerators utilizing a bulk single-crystal PMN-PT thin film (iBULe Photonics). The harvested energy reached up to 8.2 V and 0.22 mA by bending and pushing motions, which were high enough values to directly stimulate the rat’s heart. Professor Keon Jae Lee said: “For clinical purposes, the current achievement will benefit the development of self-powered cardiac pacemakers as well as prevent heart attacks via the real-time diagnosis of heart arrhythmia. In addition, the flexible piezoelectric nanogenerator could also be utilized as an electrical source for various implantable medical devices.” This research result was described in the April online issue of Advanced Materials (“Self-Powered Cardiac Pacemaker Enabled by Flexible Single Crystalline PMN-PT Piezoelectric Energy Harvester”: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/adma.201400562/abstract). Youtube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWYT2cU_Mog&feature=youtu.be Picture Caption: A self-powered cardiac pacemaker is enabled by a flexible piezoelectric energy harvester.
KAIST Made Great Improvements of Nanogenerator Power Efficiency
The energy efficiency of a piezoelectric nanogenerator developed by KAIST has increased by almost 40 times, one step closer toward the commercialization of flexible energy harvesters that can supply power infinitely to wearable, implantable electronic devices. NANOGENERATORS are innovative self-powered energy harvesters that convert kinetic energy created from vibrational and mechanical sources into electrical power, removing the need of external circuits or batteries for electronic devices. This innovation is vital in realizing sustainable energy generation in isolated, inaccessible, or indoor environments and even in the human body. Nanogenerators, a flexible and lightweight energy harvester on a plastic substrate, can scavenge energy from the extremely tiny movements of natural resources and human body such as wind, water flow, heartbeats, and diaphragm and respiration activities to generate electrical signals. The generators are not only self-powered, flexible devices but also can provide permanent power sources to implantable biomedical devices, including cardiac pacemakers and deep brain stimulators. However, poor energy efficiency and a complex fabrication process have posed challenges to the commercialization of nanogenerators. Keon Jae Lee, Associate Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at KAIST, and his colleagues have recently proposed a solution by developing a robust technique to transfer a high-quality piezoelectric thin film from bulk sapphire substrates to plastic substrates using laser lift-off (LLO). Applying the inorganic-based laser lift-off (LLO) process, the research team produced a large-area PZT thin film nanogenerators on flexible substrates (2cm x 2cm). “We were able to convert a high-output performance of ~250 V from the slight mechanical deformation of a single thin plastic substrate. Such output power is just enough to turn on 100 LED lights,” Keon Jae Lee explained. The self-powered nanogenerators can also work with finger and foot motions. For example, under the irregular and slight bending motions of a human finger, the measured current signals had a high electric power of ~8.7 μA. In addition, the piezoelectric nanogenerator has world-record power conversion efficiency, almost 40 times higher than previously reported similar research results, solving the drawbacks related to the fabrication complexity and low energy efficiency. Lee further commented, “Building on this concept, it is highly expected that tiny mechanical motions, including human body movements of muscle contraction and relaxation, can be readily converted into electrical energy and, furthermore, acted as eternal power sources.” The research team is currently studying a method to build three-dimensional stacking of flexible piezoelectric thin films to enhance output power, as well as conducting a clinical experiment with a flexible nanogenerator. This research result, entitled “Highly-efficient, Flexible Piezoelectric PZT Thin Film Nanogenerator on Plastic Substrates,” was published as the cover article of the April issue of Advanced Materials. (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/adma.201305659/abstract) YouTube Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_Fny7Xb9ig Over 100 LEDs operated by self-powered flexible piezoelectric thin film nanogenerator Flexible PZT thin film nanogenerator using inorganic-based laser lift-off process Photograph of large-area PZT thin film nanogenerator (3.5cm × 3.5cm) on a curved glass tube and 105 commercial LEDs operated by self-powered flexible piezoelectric energy harvester
A KAIST research team developed in vivo flexible large scale integrated circuits
Daejeon, Republic of Korea, May 6th, 2013–-A team led by Professor Keon Jae Lee from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at KAIST has developed in vivo silicon-based flexible large scale integrated circuits (LSI) for bio-medical wireless communication. Silicon-based semiconductors have played significant roles in signal processing, nerve stimulation, memory storage, and wireless communication in implantable electronics. However, the rigid and bulky LSI chips have limited uses in in vivo devices due to incongruent contact with the curvilinear surfaces of human organs. Especially, artificial retinas recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (refer to the press release of FDA"s artificial retina approval) require extremely flexible and slim LSI to incorporate it within the cramped area of the human eye. Although several research teams have fabricated flexible integrated circuits (ICs, tens of interconnected transistors) on plastics, their inaccurate nano-scale alignment on plastics has restricted the demonstration of flexible nano-transistors and their large scale interconnection for in vivo LSI applications such as main process unit (MPU), high density memory and wireless communication. Professor Lee"s team previously demonstrated fully functional flexible memory using ultrathin silicon membranes (Nano Letters, Flexible Memristive Memory Array on Plastic Substrates), however, its integration level and transistor size (over micron scale) have limited functional applications for flexible consumer electronics. Professor Keon Jae Lee"s team fabricated radio frequency integrated circuits (RFICs) interconnected with thousand nano-transistors on silicon wafer by state-of-the-art CMOS process, and then they removed the entire bottom substrate except top 100 nm active circuit layer by wet chemical etching. The flexible RF switches for wireless communication were monolithically encapsulated with biocompatible liquid crystal polymers (LCPs) for in vivo bio-medical applications. Finally, they implanted the LCP encapsulated RFICs into live rats to demonstrate the stable operation of flexible devices under in vivo circumstances. Professor Lee said, "This work could provide an approach to flexible LSI for an ideal artificial retina system and other bio-medical devices. Moreover, the result represents an exciting technology with the strong potential to realize fully flexible consumer electronics such as application processor (AP) for mobile operating system, high-capacity memory, and wireless communication in the near future." This result was published in the May online issue of the American Chemical Society"s journal, ACS Nano (In vivo Flexible RFICs Monolithically Encapsulated with LCP). They are currently engaged in commercializing efforts of roll-to-roll printing of flexible LSI on large area plastic substrates. Movie at Youtube Link: Fabrication process for flexible LSI for flexible display, wearable computer and artificial retina for in vivo biomedical application http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5PpbM7m2PPs&feature=youtu.be Applications of in Vivo Flexible Large Scale Integrated Circuits Top: In vivo flexible large scale integrated circuits (LSI); Bottom: Schematic of roll-to-roll printing of flexible LSI on large area plastics.
Flexible Nanogenerator Technology
KAIST research team successfully developed the foundation technology that will enable to fabrication of low cost, large area nanogenerator. Professor Lee Gun Jae’s team (Department of Materials Science and Engineering) published a dissertation on a nanogenerator using nanocomplexes as the cover dissertation of the June edition of Advanced Materials. The developed technology is receiving rave reviews for having overcome the complex and size limitations of the nanogenerator fabrication process. A nanogenerator is an electricity generator that uses materials in the nanoscale and uses piezoelectricity that creates electricity with the application of physical force. The generation technology using piezoelectricity was appointed as one of top 10 promising technologies by MIT in 2009 and was included in the 45 innovative technologies that will shake the world by Popular Science Magazine in 2010. The only nanogenerator thus far was the ZnO model suggested by Georgia Tech’s Professor Zhong Lin Wang in 2005. Professor Lee’s team used ceramic thin film material BaTiO3 which has 15~20 times greater piezoelectric capacity than ZnO and thus improved the overall performance of the device. The use of a nanocomplex allows large scale production and the simplification of the fabrication process itself. The team created a mixture of PDMS (polydimethylsiloxane) with BaTiO3 and either of CNT (Carbon Nanotube) or RGO (Reduced Graphene Oxide) which has high electrical conductivity and applied this mixture to create a large scale nanogenerator.
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