Harvesting solar energy at extremely harsh environments is of practical interest for building a self-powered harsh electronic system. However, working at high temperature and radiative environments adversely affects the performance of conventional solar cells. To improve the performance, GaN-based multiple quantum wells (MQWs) are introduced into the solar cells. The implementation of MQWs enables improved efficiency (+0.52%/K) and fill factor (+0.35%/K) with elevated temperature and shows excellent reliability under high-temperature operation. In addition, the GaN-based solar cell exhibits superior radiation robustness (lifetime >30 years under solar storm proton irradiation) due to their strong atomic bonding and direct-bandgap characteristics. This solar cell employing MQW nanostructures provides valuable routes for future developments in self-powered harsh electronics.
Paper has been an essential material in our daily life since ancient times. Its affordability, accessibility, adaptability, workability and its easiness of usage makes it an attractive structural material to develop many kind of technologies such as flexible electronics, energy storage and harvesting devices. Additionally, the scientific community has increased its interest on waste heat as an environmentally friendly energy source to support the increasing energy demand. Therefore, in this paper we described two affordable and flexible thermoelectric nanogenerators (TEGs) developed on paper substrates by the usage of simple micromachining and microfabrication techniques. Moreover, they exhibit mechanical stability and adaptability (through folding and cutting techniques) for a diverse set of scenarios where vertical or horizontal schemes can be conveniently used depending on the final application. The first TEG device, implemented on standard paper, generated a power of 0.5 nW (ΔT = 50 K). By changing the substrate to a tearless and extra-smooth polyester paper, the TEG performance was optimized achieving less internal resistance and a greater power of ~80 nW (ΔT = 75 K), at the cost of more rigidity in the substrate. This power represented over three times higher power production than the standard paper–based TEG with same dimensions, number of thermoelectric pairs and temperature difference. Another interesting aspect of paper based TEG is due to its foldability, one can control the temperature difference by unfolding (larger separation between hot and cold ends) and folding (smaller separation). Finally, one of the underlying objectives of this work is to spread the availability of essential technologies to the broad population by inclusion of everyday materials and simple processes.
The development of miniaturized, wearable, and implantable electronics has increased the demand for small stand-alone power modules that have steady output and long life-time. Given the limited capacity of energy storage devices, one promising solution is to integrate energy harvesting and storage materials to efficiently convert ambient mechanical energy to electricity for direct use or to store the harvested energy by electrochemical means. Here, a highly compact self-charging power unit is proposed by integrating triboelectric nanogenerator with MXene-based microsupercapacitors in a wearable and flexible harvester-storage module. The device can utilize and store the random energy from human activities in a standby mode and provide power to electronics when active. As a result, our microsupercapacitor delivers a capacitance of 23 mF/cm with 95% capacitance retention after 10,000 charge-discharge cycles, while the triboelectric nanogenerator exhibits a maximum output power of 7.8 µW/cm. Given the simplicity and compact nature, our device can be integrated with a variety of electronic devices and sensors.
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