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Graphene-Piezoelectric Material Heterostructure for Harvesting Energy from Water Flow


Recently, liquid flow over monolayer graphene has been experimentally demonstrated to generate an induced voltage in the flow direction, and various physical mechanisms have been proposed to explain the electricity-generating process between liquid and graphene. However, there are significant discrepancies in the reported results with non-ionic liquid: the observed voltage responses with deionized (DI) water vary from lab to lab under presumably similar flowing conditions. Here, a graphene-piezoelectric material heterostructure is proposed for harvesting energy from water flow; it is shown that the introduction of a piezoelectric template beneath graphene results in an obvious voltage output up to 0.1 V even with DI water. This potential arises from a continuous charging–discharging process in graphene, which is suggested to be a result of a relatively retarded screening effect of the water for the generated piezoelectric charges than that of the graphene layer, as revealed by first-principles calculations. This work considers a dynamic charge interaction among water, graphene, and the substrate, highlighting the crucial role of the underlying substrate in the electricity-generating process, which will greatly enhance understanding of the flow-induced voltage and push the graphene-water nanogenerator close to practical applications.