Scientists in China have discovered that a single drop of water flowing down the surface of graphene can generate an electrical current.
The research group, led by Lin Shisheng from the College of Information Science and Electronic Engineering at Zhejiang University, recently published the discovery in the scientific journal Advanced Materials.
In the study, a template that generates an electric charge when under applied mechanical stress pressure, a phenomenon known as piezoelectricity, was introduced beneath graphene as a supporting material.
As quoted in ecns.com, “When a drop of water drips down and flows over the graphene, the caused deformation of the piezoelectric template can generate an induced voltage in the flow direction. Therefore, the template as a supporting material to the graphene plays a crucial role in the electricity-generating process.”
Graphene is already well-known for its conductive properties, including its ability to be used as a superconductor at room temperature. However, since graphene is a 2d material, some sort of supporting element is usually required.
“Because graphene is very thin, we must rely on some materials to support graphene. In the past, people tended to pay more attention to graphene itself, while ignoring the supporting materials, which also play an important role,” said Lin. “To be precise, the discovery of ‘water-flow induced electricity generation’ is achieved by both graphene and its supporting materials.”
This newfound ability to generate electricity using a waterflow-induced process using graphene could mean major developments in sustainable energy for the future.