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Cellulose-based triboelectric nanogenerators and possible novelties for cellulose in tribology

Doctoral candidate Haider Iftikhar from Aalto University School of Chemical Engineering had research visit to Mid-Sweden University in Sundsvall Sweden. Haider is investigating Triboelectricity and Tribocharging under the supervision of Prof. Orlando Rojas in the Biobased Colloids and Materials group (BiCMat). Haider's main interest lies on triboelectric nano-generators (TENGs) based on cellulosic materials. TENGs are devices able to generate electrical energy by harvesting a mechanical force stimulus from the surrounding and by interaction of two oppositely charged dielectric surfaces through electrostatic induction and contact electrification. Haider has successfully integrated cellulose nanofibers and other cellulosic materials as triboelectric surfaces for charge generation. Numerous potential application are expected in this area that proposes completely biodegradable electric generators with no adverse environmental effects.


Haider's aspirations in environmentally sustainable tribology pertaining to celluloses led to a visit to the Fiber Science and Communication Network (FSCN) at Mid-Sweden University in Sundsvall Sweden. Haider worked with Prof. Magnus Norgren and his group who pioneered work on cellulosic TENGs in 2019. Haider spent 6 months in Sundsvall consolidating his expertise and in turn learning and verifying new potentials for the field. During his visit he participated in an internationally reputable conference on Nanogenerators and Piezotronics in June (NGPT 2022) which was held in Mid-Sweden University and hosted by FSCN. In the conference, he presented substantial results of his work and presented a poster for new and novel cellulose-based negative tribolayer for his version of a 100% biodegradable cellulose-based TENG.


Haider concluded the visit: "While visiting Mid-Sweden University and the Department of Chemical Engineering at FSCN research centre for 6 months GoGlobal mobility, I became part of an ongoing innovative research conducted by the personnel of FSCN on TENGs and related cellulosic materials. I used to admire their work already for some time even before going over there, and always wondered “what would it be like to actually work with them?” Well now that I have been there, it was amazing and exciting. The application of cellulosic materials in tribology at Mid-Sweden University is not only inspiring but very impactful as well. During my time there I collaborated as much as possible and gained expertise on TENGs as well as got to learn and implement related techniques. I worked under the extremely capable leadership of Professor Magnus Norgren and Associate Professor Christina Dahlström along with the rest of their colleagues who are still collaborating and are co-authors of upcoming publications. I have been part of very interesting research related to various cellulosic materials that can be efficiently applied in TENGs to improve their output capacity and lifetime. While working at FSCN, I have already learnt many new avenues and exciting techniques that are very relevant to my work. I felt right at home in Mid-Sweden University as though I never left Aalto to begin with, and I am looking forward to expanding the collaboration further with the same fervor, while being back at Aalto again."


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