Energy harvesters

Development of tailored piezoelectric materials for harvesting mechanical energy

This research encompasses the fields of organic chemistry, polymer physics, materials science, electrochemistry, chemical and electrical engineering, and process optimisation to develop flexible materials towards the scalable fabrication of piezoelectric polymers, supercapacitors and diodes to harvest mechanical energy from the environment and store it in the form of electrical energy.

Our group works closely with industry partners to produce highly electroactive piezoelectric polymers through printable techniques for the enhancement of their energy harvesting capabilities. Tailoring processing parameters, molecular composition of the polymers and introducing additives into the matrix allows us to greatly enhance the piezoelectricity without the need for highly energetic post-processing techniques. This, in turn, enables us to create materials which can harvest the energy from movement from the human body – both on skin and implanted – as well as from wind, water flow, and vehicle movement.

We build on these printed piezoelectric polymers with light scribed graphene supercapacitors to build fully integrated energy harvesting systems. Energy produced from the piezoelectric polymer is transferred, via a printed diode, into the graphene supercapacitor and stored as an electrical double layer within the structures. These flexible, all printed, systems are less than 100 μm thick and can be used to power wearable technology or bionic implants without the need for additional batteries.

Cross section through a PDVF-based flexible PEG

Selected publications

Andris Šutka, Peter C. Sherrell, Nick A. Shepelin, Linards Lapčinskis, Kaspars Mālnieks, Amanda V. Ellis. Measuring Piezoelectric Output—Fact or Friction?, Advanced Materials, 2020, Volume 32, Issue 32, 10.1002/adma.202002979

Nick A. Shepelin, Peter C. Sherrell,  Eirini Goudeli,  Emmanuel N. Skountzos, Vanessa C. Lussini, Greg W. Dicinoski, Joseph G. Shapter and  Amanda V. Ellis. Printed recyclable and self-poled polymer piezoelectric generators through single-walled carbon nanotube templating, Energy & Environmental Science, 2020, Issue 3, /10.1039/C9EE03059J

N.A. Shepelin, A.M. Glushenkov, V.C. Lussini, P.J. Fox, G.W. Dicinoski, J.G. Shapter, A.V. Ellis, New developments in composites, copolymer technologies and processing techniques for flexible fluoropolymer piezoelectric generators for efficient energy harvesting, Energy and Environmental Science, 2019, 12, 1143–1176, 10.1039/C8EE03006E

Funding sources

Reserve Bank of Australia

Australian Research Council Linkage Project