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Xi, Y.; Fan, Y.; Li, Z.; Liu, Z. Structures of iTENGs. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 24 June 2024).
Xi Y, Fan Y, Li Z, Liu Z. Structures of iTENGs. Encyclopedia. Available at: Accessed June 24, 2024.
Xi, Yuan, Yubo Fan, Zhou Li, Zhuo Liu. "Structures of iTENGs" Encyclopedia, (accessed June 24, 2024).
Xi, Y., Fan, Y., Li, Z., & Liu, Z. (2023, August 21). Structures of iTENGs. In Encyclopedia.
Xi, Yuan, et al. "Structures of iTENGs." Encyclopedia. Web. 21 August, 2023.
Structures of iTENGs

A triboelectric nanogenerator (TENG) can convert mechanical energy into electricity/electrical signal based on the triboelectric effect and electrostatic induction. Implantable TENG (iTENG), as an emerging technology for energy harvesting and conversion, has broad application prospects.

iTENGs materials structures applications

1. Introduction

A triboelectric nanogenerator (TENG) can convert mechanical energy into electricity/electrical signal based on the triboelectric effect and electrostatic induction [1][2][3][4][5][6]. In detail, after two different materials rub against each other, due to the difference in their ability to adsorb electrons, one material will carry a positive charge, while the other material will carry a negative charge. At the same time, induced charges will be generated on the back electrode of the two materials. When two materials are separated, positive and negative charges separate, and this separation of positive and negative charges creates a potential difference between the upper and lower electrodes of the material. As the distance between the two materials changes, the potential also undergoes periodic changes. Similar to piezoelectric nanogenerators, connecting the outer sides of two materials through external circuits or loads can generate alternating induced currents [7][8][9][10]. TENG harnesses electricity generation through multiple distinct working modes, each offering unique mechanisms for energy harvesting [11]. The contact–separation mode involves two dissimilar materials making contact and then separating vertically. During contact, electron transfer occurs, leading to charge accumulation and subsequent potential difference upon separation, resulting in electricity generation. The single-electrode mode is a variation of the contact–separation mode, where only one triboelectric material is used, and the other material is replaced with an electrode or a conductive surface. The single material is mechanically moved or flexed to induce contact and separation with the electrode, generating electricity through the triboelectric effect. The sliding mode relies on two triboelectric materials in direct contact, which are laterally slid against each other. TENGs operating in the freestanding mode comprise a charged moving object and two stationary triboelectric layers. Electrodes positioned near these triboelectric layers are externally connected to a load. The reciprocating movement of the charged object between the two friction layers induces a potential difference between the two electrodes, initiating electron flow back and forth within the external circuit loop. As a result, electricity is generated, harnessing the triboelectric effect and transforming mechanical energy into a usable electrical output. TENGs provide a sustainable and renewable energy-harvesting solution that directly converts mechanical energy into electricity without relying on fossil fuels. They offer a cleaner and greener alternative to traditional power generation methods, contributing to reduced greenhouse gas emissions and environmental impact [12][13][14].
Compared to solar power, TENGs can generate electricity from various mechanical sources, making them suitable for both indoor and outdoor applications. They are not dependent on sunlight, making them viable for use in low-light or nighttime scenarios. TENGs and piezoelectric generators share similarities as both convert mechanical energy into electricity. However, TENGs offer advantages like higher power density and the ability to harvest energy from a broader range of mechanical movements, including sliding and rotational motion. Compared to the batteries, TENGs can serve as self-powered devices, eliminating the need for frequent battery replacements and reducing electronic waste. They offer sustainable power generation without relying on external energy storage. TENG technology has been widely researched and applied, including wearable electronics, smart sensors, biomedical devices, self-powered systems, and other fields [7][15][16][17][18][19].
With the development of TENG technology, implantable TENG (iTENG) has also received more and more attention and research [20][21][22][23]. One of the advantages of this technology is that it can use the mechanical energy generated by the body’s own movement to generate electricity in vivo, so there is no need to use an external power source or battery [11][24][25]. iTENGs can be used to prepare implantable medical devices, such as implantable cardiac pacemakers, EEG monitors, drug pumps, etc., thereby reducing the frequency of battery replacement and the risk of surgery [26][27]. iTENGs can not only reduce the volume and weight of the implant but also improve the service life of the implant, reducing the frequency of battery replacement and surgery [15][28][29].
Materials and structures play a crucial role in the design and application of iTENGs [30][31]. The choice of materials and structures is tailored to the specific requirements and constraints of each application [32]. By carefully selecting materials and optimizing structural designs, iTENGs can be customized to meet the requirements of various applications, including biomedical sensing, power supply, and other specific uses [33]. This approach ensures the functionality, biocompatibility, and efficiency of the iTENGs in their respective applications, leading to advancements in the field of implantable medical devices [34].
Biocompatibility, mechanical stability, and flexibility are three essential requirements for iTENGs [35][36]. These characteristics are crucial to ensure the safe and reliable operation of the devices within the human body. First of all, biocompatibility means that the material will not cause immune reaction and rejection when it comes into contact with human tissue and will not cause damage to human tissue and organs [37]. Therefore, in the preparation process of iTENG, it is necessary to select materials with good biocompatibility and conduct strict biocompatibility tests to ensure that it is harmless to the human body after implantation. Second, mechanical stability means that the material will not fail or be damaged due to mechanical stress, wear, or other factors during the implantation process [38]. Therefore, in the preparation of iTENG, it is necessary to select materials with good mechanical stability and conduct strict mechanical performance tests to ensure that its performance and stability can be maintained for a long time after implantation [39]. Flexibility is also a key consideration for iTENG as they need to conform to the shape and movement of the human body. Flexible materials and structural designs allow the devices to adapt and integrate seamlessly with the surrounding tissues or organs. This flexibility ensures patient comfort, minimizes the risk of damage to surrounding tissues, and enables unhindered bodily movements [40].
The iTENGs can be traced back to the development of triboelectric nanogenerators in the early 2010s [41][42][43][44]. As the field progressed, researchers also explored the use of flexible conductive polymers and carbon-based materials, such as graphene and carbon nanotubes, to achieve better compatibility with the human body [30][32][45]. As the field advanced, researchers focused on developing advanced encapsulation strategies, such as thin film coatings or biodegradable materials, to minimize device size, improve biocompatibility, and enable localized drug release [46]. Throughout the history of iTENGs, there has been a continuous effort to refine the materials and structures used in these devices [47]. The evolution of materials and structures has paved the way for the development of more advanced and functional iTENGs with the potential to power a wide range of biomedical devices and enable innovative healthcare solutions [48][49][50].
iTENG, as an emerging technology for energy harvesting and conversion, has broad application prospects. Although there are still some challenges, such as durability and stability, with the continuous advancement and improvement in technology, it is believed that iTENGs will be used in the future medical.

2. Structures

The four power generation modes of the triboelectric nanogenerator are as follows: contact–separation mode, sliding mode, single-electrode mode, and free-standing mode [51][52][53][54][55]. In the contact–separation mode, the contact and separation between two materials is achieved by vertical motion. When two materials are in contact, charges are transferred from one material to another due to the contact electrification effect, causing equal but opposite charges to be generated on the surfaces of the two materials. Then, when the two materials separate, the potential difference drives charge back and forth between the electrodes using an external circuit due to electrostatic induction, generating electricity [56][57][58]. The triboelectric nanogenerator in sliding mode has a slidable upper plate. Initially, the two materials overlap completely and are in close contact, so the surface charge is evenly distributed. However, when the upper plate slides, the reduced contact area causes charge separation, causing a potential difference between the surfaces of the two materials. This potential difference drives electrons to flow between the upper and lower electrodes, generating electricity. The triboelectric nanogenerator in single-electrode mode has only one main electrode, and the other electrode is the ground electrode. In this mode, the reference electrode acts to guide the charge transfer while the main electrode collects and outputs the generated electrical energy. The free-standing mode is a special triboelectric nanogenerator structure consisting of a movable dielectric layer and a pair of fixed electrodes. The key in this pattern is the movement of the dielectric layer, which causes charges to be unevenly distributed between the materials, creating a potential difference. This potential difference drives electrons to move between the two stationary electrodes, thereby generating electrical energy [14][59][60].
For iTENGs, commonly used power generation modes include contact–separation mode, single-electrode mode, and free-standing mode [40][61][62][63][64]. These patterns have certain advantages and applicability in implantable applications. In the contact–separation mode, the contact and separation between two materials is achieved by vertical motion [65][66]. This mode is suitable for the movement process of implantable devices, such as joint movement, breathing, etc. Through the combination of contact electrification and electrostatic induction effects, implantable devices can generate electrical energy during motion and provide continuous electrical support for organisms. The single-electrode mode has the advantages of certain flexibility and simplified structure in implantable applications. In this mode, only one main electrode and one ground electrode are required, simplifying the device fabrication and implantation process. The main electrode is in contact with the implantable tissue and guides charge transfer through the reference electrode to realize energy conversion and power generation. This mode is suitable for applications requiring long-term implantation in biological tissues. The free-standing mode is a flexible and diverse power generation mode for iTENGs. The non-uniform distribution of charge and the generation of potential difference can be achieved through the moving dielectric layer and fixed electrodes. This mode can be applied to different implant structures, such as implantable catheters, implantable sensors, etc., to achieve energy harvesting and utilization. The choice of these power generation modes depends on the specific implant application requirements, including implant location, motion mode, material selection, etc. By rationally designing and optimizing the power generation mode, iTENGs can provide a long-lasting and reliable energy supply for medical devices, biosensors, and other implanted electronic devices.

2.1. Contact–Separation Mode

The contact–separation mode is one of the commonly used power generation modes in iTENGs and has broad application prospects [65][67][68]. In this mode, using the combination of contact electrification and electrostatic induction, the triboelectric nanogenerator can utilize the motion of the implanted site or the effect of the external environment to generate a continuous power supply [69][70][71]. This model is suitable for a variety of implantable medical devices, sensors, and biological implants. For implantable medical devices such as pacemakers and neurostimulators, the contact–separation mode can provide the energy needed to ensure the normal operation of the device. For implantable sensors, triboelectric nanogenerators can collect environmental parameters and physiological signals using the movement of human joints or external pressure and provide power and signal transmission for sensors. In addition, for various bio-implanted devices, such as implantable heart assist devices and electronic drug delivery systems, the contact–separation mode can use the motion of the device or the dynamics inside the organism as the energy source to meet the energy demand of the device. 

2.2. Single-Electrode Mode

The single-electrode mode is one of the commonly used power generation modes in iTENGs [72][73]. In this mode, the generator consists of only one main electrode, usually fixed in position, while the other electrode is directly grounded. The single-electrode mode achieves charge transfer and power generation using the combined effects of triboelectrification and electrostatic induction. In iTENGs, the single-electrode mode has a wide range of applications [11]. First, it is suitable for implantable medical devices such as pacemakers and neurostimulators. These devices require a steady supply of energy to maintain their proper function. Using a triboelectric nanogenerator in single-electrode mode, movement within the device or external stimulation can trigger charge transfer and potential difference generation to provide the desired electrical energy. Second, the single-electrode mode can be used for implantable biosensors. These sensors are used to monitor information such as physiological parameters and disease states. Using the single-electrode mode of the triboelectric nanogenerator, the sensor can be powered by the energy generated by the motion of the organism or external stimuli to realize real-time data acquisition and transmission. In addition, the single-electrode mode is also suitable for implantable drug delivery systems. In this system, triboelectric nanogenerators generate electrical energy through the movement of the implanted device or friction with surrounding tissue to provide the required energy for the drug delivery system. In this way, the release rate and timing of the drug can be precisely controlled, enabling customized drug delivery. The single-electrode model has the advantages of simplicity and flexibility. Since only one main electrode is needed, its design and manufacture are relatively simple, and it can meet the needs of various implantable devices. In addition, the single-electrode mode reduces system complexity and size, improving the reliability and durability of implanted devices.

2.3. Free-Standing Mode

The free-standing mode is one of the commonly used power generation modes in iTENGs [74][75]. It consists of a movable dielectric layer and a pair of fixed electrodes. In this mode, the movement of free-standings leads to non-uniform charge distribution, which drives electrons to move between two fixed electrodes, generating electrical energy. The free-standing mode has broad applications in iTENGs. First, it could be used to harvest the kinetic energy of living organisms around implants [37]. When the human body moves, the friction between the implant and the surrounding tissue generates mechanical energy, which can be converted into electrical energy through the triboelectric nanogenerator in the free-standing mode to provide continuous energy for the implanted device. Second, the free-standing model is suitable for implantable medical devices such as pacemakers and neurostimulators [76]. These devices require a reliable energy supply to keep them running. Using the triboelectric nanogenerator in the free-standing mode, the friction or movement of the device with the surrounding tissue can generate electrical energy to provide the required power for the medical device. Furthermore, the free-standings paradigm is also suitable for implantable biosensors for monitoring physiological parameters and disease states [77]. Using the triboelectric nanogenerator in the free-standing mode, the sensor can be powered by the energy generated by the motion of the organism or external stimuli to realize real-time data acquisition and transmission [78]. In addition, the free-standing mode can be applied to implantable drug release systems, which can be used to provide energy to control the release rate and time of drugs. When the implant rubs or moves with the surrounding tissue, the triboelectric nanogenerator in the free-standing mode generates electricity to provide the required power for the drug release system to achieve precise drug delivery [69].
Overall, the free-standing mode has broad applications in iTENGs. It can collect the motion energy of living organisms, provide reliable energy solutions for implantable medical devices, biosensors, and drug release systems, promote the development of implantable medical technology, and achieve a higher level [79].
The entry focuses on the structural design aspects of iTENGs, exploring three key modes of operation: contact–separation mode, single-electrode mode, and free-standing mode [26][80][81]. The contact–separation mode involves the generation of electricity using the combined effects of contact electrification and electrostatic induction. When two materials in contact experience relative motion, charge transfer occurs, resulting in the generation of opposite charges on their surfaces. The resulting potential difference drives charge flow through an external circuit. The single-electrode mode differs from the other modes as it employs only one main electrode, while a reference electrode is grounded [82]. Charge transfer between the reference and main electrodes occurs using a movable charging surface driven by friction and electrostatic induction. The free-standing mode utilizes a movable dielectric layer between two fixed electrodes. As the dielectric layer moves, it induces an uneven charge distribution, leading to charge flow between the electrodes to balance the potential distribution. These structural designs allow for versatile applications of iTENGs, enabling their integration into various biomedical devices and systems. The chapter emphasizes the importance of structural optimization for maximizing energy generation efficiency, improving device flexibility and conformability, and ensuring compatibility with different operating conditions. By understanding and harnessing the unique features of each structural mode, researchers can advance the development and implementation of iTENGs in diverse healthcare and wearable technology applications.


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