Control of electro-chemical processes using energy harvesting materials and devices
Energy harvesting is a topic of intense interest that aims to convert ambient forms of energy such as mechanical motion, light and heat, which are otherwise wasted, into useful energy. In many cases the energy harvester or nanogenerator converts motion, heat or light into electrical energy, which is subsequently rectified and stored within capacitors for applications such as wireless and self-powered sensors or low-power electronics. This review covers the new and emerging area that aims to directly couple energy harvesting materials and devices with electro-chemical systems. The harvesting approaches to be covered include pyroelectric, piezoelectric, triboelectric, flexoelectric, thermoelectric and photovoltaic effects. These are used to influence a variety of electro-chemical systems such as applications related to water splitting, catalysis, corrosion protection, degradation of pollutants, disinfection of bacteria and material synthesis. Comparisons are made between the range harvesting approaches and the modes of operation are described. Future directions for the development of electro-chemical harvesting systems are highlighted and the potential for new applications and hybrid approaches are discussed.