Novel “3-D spacer” all fibre piezoelectric textiles for energy harvesting applications†
The piezoelectric effect in poly(vinylidene fluoride), PVDF, was discovered over four decades ago and since then, significant work has been carried out aiming at the production of high β-phase fibres and their integration into fabric structures for energy harvesting. However, little work has been done in the area of production of “true piezoelectric fabric structures” based on flexible polymeric materials such as PVDF. In this work, we demonstrate “3D spacer” technology based all-fibre piezoelectric fabrics as power generators and energy harvesters. The knitted single-structure piezoelectric generator consists of high β-phase (∼80%) piezoelectric PVDF monofilaments as the spacer yarn interconnected between silver (Ag) coated polyamide multifilament yarn layers acting as the top and bottom electrodes. The novel and unique textile structure provides an output power density in the range of 1.10–5.10 μW cm−2 at applied impact pressures in the range of 0.02–0.10 MPa, thus providing significantly higher power outputs and efficiencies over the existing 2D woven and nonwoven piezoelectric structures. The high energy efficiency, mechanical durability and comfort of the soft, flexible and all-fibre based power generator are highly attractive for a variety of potential applications such as wearable electronic systems and energy harvesters charged from the ambient environment or by human movement.