Zebra-inspired Thermoelectric Generator Dissolves Completely in the Environment


Researchers have developed a soft and flexible thermoelectric generator based on a biodegradable polymer, which can convert temperature differences into electricity. Traditional thermoelectric generators (TEGs) have typically been made from expensive and toxic semiconductor materials such as bismuth telluride and lead telluride, limiting their widespread use. However, the new generator can be easily integrated onto a fabric base, enabling the creation of heat-powered body-worn sensors or disposable face masks that can measure temperature.

TEGs generate electric current through the flow of charges between hot and cold regions. The new generator, developed by scientists from the Korean Institute of Science and Technology, uses a zebra-stripe-inspired pattern to create a temperature difference between the stripes large enough to generate electricity. The white sheet made from a flexible and biodegradable polycaprolactone polymer is evenly coated with stripes of black polymer. The white stripes reflect sunlight and radiate heat in the infrared range, while the black stripes absorb heat. This creates hot and cold areas on the elastic polymer base. The striped sheet is placed on top of the “silicon nanomembrane”, which is an array of wave-shaped semiconductor nanowires that can stretch without breaking.

The alternating black and white stripes were tested on a sunny day and created a maximum temperature difference of 22°C, generating a maximum power of about 6 microwatts per square meter (µW/m²). While this is sufficient for low-power sensors, it is less than ideal for commercial applications. Using more thermoelectrically efficient materials would increase the power output, but the device’s main advantages of cheapness, elasticity and biodegradability would be lost. The device was also found to completely dissolve into harmless by-products in 35 days when placed in a saline solution.

The new generator’s flexibility and biodegradability make it ideal for a range of applications, including wearable sensors and medical implants. The device can be integrated into fabrics, allowing the creation of wearable sensors that are powered by body heat. It can also be used to create disposable temperature measuring devices for use in hospitals and clinics. The biodegradable nature of the device means that it could be used for temporary implants, such as sutures, that would naturally degrade over time.

While the new generator is not yet suitable for commercial applications, the researchers hope that their work will inspire further development of low-cost, flexible and environmentally-friendly TEGs. With further advances, these generators could help to reduce energy waste by turning heat from appliances and electronics into usable energy, and could have significant applications in a range of industries.

Share post:



More like this

Italy-China Exchange: Milan Leading the Economic Revival

From the conference held yesterday afternoon at Palazzo Turati...

Africa’s Most Followed Artistes on Spotify

Discover the top African music stars dominating Spotify charts, from Burna Boy to WizKid, shaping the global music scene.

First Pan-African Disney+ Series, ‘Iwájú’ to be premiered

Disney+ has collaborated with pan–African studio Kugali Media for a innovative animated series set in futuristic Lagos, Nigeria.

BREAKING: AFCON 2025 will take place from July to August 2025 in Morocco

The continent’s biggest football tournament is set to take place in Morocco next year from July to August.

South African Music Sensation Tyla Achieves International Milestones

South African new kid on the block, Tyla is crossing boundaries with her hit song ‘Water’. 

Ethiopia’s Bold Move into Bitcoin Mining and AI Development

Ethiopia invests $250 million in bitcoin mining and AI, forging partnerships and pioneering tech advancements in Africa

AFCON 2023: Morocco Coach Walid Regragui Suspended After Fiery Clash Against DR Congo

Morocco coach Walid Regragui has been handed a four-game ban, with two games suspension and a $5,000 fine, following his involvement in his players' clash against DR Congo.

Ghana: Chris Hughton Axed as Head Coach After AFCON Exit

The Ghana Football Association has decided to part ways with head coach Chris Hughton following the national team's early departure from the Africa Cup of Nations.

Oscars 2024 Full List Of Nominees

From gripping dramas to animated wonders, this year's contenders promise a cinematic feast for all. Below is the full list of nominees for the 2024 Oscars.

Tom Saintfiet Resigns as Gambia Coach Following Disappointing Africa Cup of Nations Exit

Tom Saintfiet has officially resigned as the coach of the Gambia national football team, following their dramatic exit from the Africa Cup of Nations on Tuesday.

AFCON 2023: Mauritania eliminates 2019 AFCON champions Algeria

In a surprising turn of events at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), Algeria faced an unexpected early exit from the tournament after a shocking defeat against Mauritania.

Ivory Coast’s Coach Jean-Louis Gasset Amid AFCON Drama

In a surprising turn of events, the Ivory Coast national football team's coach, Jean-Louis Gasset, has been relieved of his duties despite the team still having a glimmer of hope for advancing in the Africa Cup of Nations.

Antony Blinken opens African tour in Cape Verde

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has embarked on a significant week-long tour of Africa's west coast, with a crucial mission to bolster American influence in the region amidst stiff competition from Beijing and Moscow.

Burna Boy Set to Make History at the 2024 Grammys

Nigerian singer Damini Ogulu, known as Burna Boy, will perform at the 2024 GRAMMYs on Sunday, February 4 at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles, US. He is set to become the first African to perform on the main event.

AFCON 2023: Liverpool Star Temporarily Leaves Africa Cup of Nations for Rehab

In a surprising turn of events, Egyptian football sensation Mohamed Salah is set to temporarily exit the Africa Cup of Nations due to a muscle injury, as confirmed by his Premier League club, Liverpool, on Sunday.

Cameroon starts world’s first malaria vaccine program for children

In a groundbreaking move, Cameroon is set to become the first country in Africa to administer a new malaria vaccine.

Top 5 African countries with the best quality of life index

According to data and research powerhouse Numbeo, some African countries stand out for boasting the best quality of life. Below are the top five African countries with the best quality of life index according to Numbeo.

AFCON 2023: Underdogs Namibia shock Tunisia on their first-ever win at AFCON

Namibia secured their first-ever win at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals after a late goal from Deon Hotto fired them to a superb 1-0 victory over Tunisia in Korhogo.

AFCON 2023: Late Penalty Drama Secures Victory for Burkina Faso Against Mauritania

Bertrand Traoré's last-minute penalty proved to be the decisive moment, securing all three points for Burkina Faso in their opening Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) group stage match.

Burkina Faso: Francis Kéré receives 2024 Crystal Award for social change at WEF

Diébédo Francis Kéré, a world-renowned architect and 2022 Pritzker Prize laureate, has been honoured at the World Economic Forum's 30th Annual Crystal Award ceremony.