Self-powered, ultrasensitive, flexible tactile sensors based on contact electrification

Guang Zhu, Wei Qing Yang, Tiejun Zhang, Qingshen Jing, Jun Chen, Yu Sheng Zhou, Peng Bai, Zhong Lin Wang

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

385 Citations (Scopus)


Tactile/touch sensing is essential in developing human-machine interfacing and electronic skins for areas such as automation, security, and medical care. Here, we report a self-powered triboelectric sensor based on flexible thin-film materials. It relies on contact electrification to generate a voltage signal in response to a physical contact without using an external power supply. Enabled by the unique sensing mechanism and surface modification by polymer-nanowires, the triboelectric sensor shows an exceptional pressure sensitivity of 44 mV/Pa (0.09% Pa-1) and a maximum touch sensitivity of 1.1 V/Pa (2.3% Pa-1) in the extremely low-pressure region (<0.15 KPa). Through integration of the sensor with a signal-processing circuit, a complete tactile sensing system is further developed. Diverse applications of the system are demonstrated, explicitly indicating a variety of immediate uses in human-electronics interface, automatic control, surveillance, remote operation, and security systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3208-3213
Number of pages6
JournalNano Letters
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jun 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Contact electrification
  • flexible electronics
  • self-powered electronics
  • tactile sensing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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