Manipulating nanoscale contact electrification by an applied electric field

Yu Sheng Zhou, Sihong Wang, Ya Yang, Guang Zhu, Simiao Niu, Zong Hong Lin, Ying Liu, Zhong Lin Wang

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

156 Citations (Scopus)


Contact electrification is about the charge transfer between the surfaces of two materials in a contact-separation process. This effect has been widely utilized in particle separation and energy harvesting, where the charge transfer is preferred to be maximized. However, this effect is always undesirable in some areas such as electronic circuit systems due to the damage from the accumulated electrostatic charges. Herein, we introduced an approach to purposely manipulate the contact electrification process both in polarity and magnitude of the charge transfer through an applied electric field between two materials. Theoretical modeling and the corresponding experiments for controlling the charge transfer between a Pt coated atomic force microscopy tip and Parylene film have been demonstrated. The modulation effect of the electric field on contact electrification is enhanced for a thinner dielectric layer. This work can potentially be utilized to enhance the output performance of energy harvesting devices or nullify contact electric charge transfer in applications where this effect is undesirable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1567-1572
Number of pages6
JournalNano Letters
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 12 Mar 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Contact electrification
  • atomic force microscopy
  • nanogenerators
  • scanning Kelvin probe microscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Chemistry (all)
  • Materials Science (all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering


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