Three-dimensional graphene foam based triboelectric nanogenerators for energy systems and autonomous sensors

Emma Keel, Ammara Ejaz, Michael Mckinlay, Manuel Pelayo Garcia, Marco Caffio, Des Gibson, Carlos García Núñez*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


In this work we investigate the potential of three-dimensional graphene (3DG) foam as an active layer in triboelectric nanogenerators (TENGs) and as an energy harvesting power source for autonomous sensors. A series of comprehensive measurements have been carried out to test the output characteristics of 3DG-TENG under cyclic mechanical stimulus, capable of operating TENG in contact-separation mode at different frequencies, gap distances between electrodes, and applied pressures. The triboelectric response of 3DG-TENG (with an effective surface of 16 cm2) showed maximum open-circuit voltage (Voc) and short-circuit current (Isc) of 400 V and 105.7 μA respectively when stimulated at 3 Hz (contact-separation frequency) and 70 mm (optimum gap distance). Under the same conditions, a maximum output power (Pout) of around 10.37 W/m2 is produced using an external load resistance of 40 MΩ; this is an order of magnitude lower resistance than that needed with other graphene based TENG variants. 3DG-TENG exhibited great stability in the output characteristics with 15,000 cyclic mechanical stimuli and a retention percentage in Pout above 95%. This is a significant improvement with respect to other carbon based TENG`s, which show enhanced deterioration of TENG performance due to material transfer between electrodes and plastic deformation of triboelectric materials. Simulations of TENG Voc using distance dependent model determined high triboelectric charge densities in the range of mC/m2. Here, we also demonstrate the potential of 3DG-TENG as an energy supply for energy storage devices, and as an active layer in an autonomous pressure sensing platform for anonymous room occupancy monitoring in smart buildings.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108475
Number of pages15
JournalNano Energy
Early online date23 Apr 2023
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2023


  • 3D graphene
  • energy harvesting
  • self-powered sensors
  • triboelectric nanogenerator


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