Nano Research

Article Title

Self-powered acoustic source locator in underwater environment based on organic film triboelectric nanogenerator


triboelectric nanogenerator, self-powered acoustic source locator, underwater, three dimensional coordinate


Detecting/sensing targets underwater has very important applications in environmental study, civil engineering and national security. In this paper, an organic-film based triboelectric nanogenerator (TENG) has been successfully demonstrated for the first time as a self-powered and high sensitivity acoustic sensor to detect underwater targets at low frequencies around 100 Hz. This innovative, cost-effective, simple-design TENG consists of a thin-film-based Cu electrode and a polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) film with nanostructures on its surfaces. On the basis of the coupling effect between triboelectrification and electrostatic induction, the sensor generates electrical output signals in response to incident sound waves. Operating at a resonance frequency of 110 Hz, under an acoustic pressure of 144.2 dBSPL, the maximum open-circuit voltage and short-circuit current of the generator can respectively reach 65 V and 32 μA underwater. The directional dependence pattern has a bi-directional shape with a total response angle of 60°. Its sensitivity is higher than –185 dB in the frequency range from 30 Hz to 200 Hz. The highest sensitivity is –146 dB at resonance frequency. The three-dimensional coordinates of an acoustic source were identified by four TENGs, self-powered active sensors, and the location of the acoustic source was determined with an error about 0.2 m. This study not only expands the application fields of TENGs from the atmosphere to water, but also shows the TENG is a promising acoustic source locator in underwater environments.

Graphical Abstract


Tsinghua University Press