Flexible piezoelectric nanogenerators using metal-doped ZnO-PVDF films

Congran Jin, Nanjing Hao, Zhe Xu, Ian Trase, Yuan Nie, Lin Dong, Andrew Closson, Zi Chen, John X.J. Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


Piezoelectric nanomaterial-polymer composites represent a unique paradigm for making flexible energy harvesting and sensing devices with enhanced devices’ performance. In this work, we studied various metal doped ZnO nanostructures, fabricated and characterized ZnO nanoparticle-PVDF composite thin film, and demonstrated both enhanced energy generation and motion sensing capabilities. Specifically, a series of flexible piezoelectric nanogenerators (PENGs) were designed based on these piezoelectric composite thin films. The voltage output from cobalt (Co), sodium (Na), silver (Ag), and lithium (Li) doped ZnO-PVDF composite as well as pure ZnO-PVDF samples were individually studied and compared. Under the same experimental conditions, the Li-ZnO based device produces the largest peak-to-peak voltage (3.43 Vpp) which is about 9 times of that of the pure ZnO based device, where Co-ZnO, Na-ZnO and Ag-ZnO are 1.2, 4.9 and 5.4 times, respectively. In addition, the effect of doping ratio of Li-ZnO is studied, and we found that 5 % is the best doping ratio in terms of output voltage. Finally, we demonstrated that the energy harvested by the device from finger tapping at ∼2 Hz can charge a capacitor with a large output power density of 0.45 W/cm3 and light up an ultraviolet (UV) light-emitting diode (LED). We also showed the device as a flexible wearable motion sensor, where different hand gestures were detected by the device with distinctive output voltage amplitudes and patterns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number111912
JournalSensors and Actuators, A: Physical
StatePublished - Apr 15 2020
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Instrumentation
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Metals and Alloys
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


  • Flexible energy harvester
  • Metal doping
  • PVDF
  • Piezoelectric
  • Sensor
  • ZnO


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