Researchers develop world’s thinnest electric generator

In a paper published online October 15, 2014, in the journal Nature, research groups from the two institutions demonstrate the mechanical generation of electricity from the two-dimensional (2D) MoS2 material. The piezoelectric effect in this material had previously been predicted theoretically.

Piezoelectricity is a well-known effect in which stretching or compressing a material causes it to generate an electrical voltage (or the reverse, in which an applied voltage causes it to expand or contract). But for materials of only a few atomic thicknesses, no experimental observation of piezoelectricity has been made, until now. The observation provides a new property for two-dimensional materials such as molybdenum disulfide, opening the potential for new types of mechanically controlled electronic devices.

Proof of the piezoelectric effect and piezotronic effect adds new functionalities to these two-dimensional materials,” said Zhong Lin Wang, Regents’ Professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Materials Science and Engineering and a co-leader of the research. “The materials community is excited about molybdenum disulfide, and demonstrating the piezoelectric effect in it adds a new facet to the material

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