Self-powered nanosensors based on triboelectric and thermoelectric effects
The self-powered nanosensors developed by Dr. Lin’s group can function without external power supply. By directly converting mechanical energy or thermal energy into electric outputs (means can be triggered by mechanical motion or temperature difference), the output values of the developed nanosensors will be varied upon the sensing of target molecules or ions. With the simplicity (no complex circuitry or power supply involved), low-cost fabrication (small-sized; minimal and low-priced materials required) and label-free sensing mechanism, the developed self-powered nanosensors demonstrate great potential to serve as new prototypes of portable devices for the in-field sensing of samples (selected recent publications: Nano Energy 2020, 69, 105092; Nano Energy 2019, 62, 268-274; Nanoscale 2020, 12, 17663; Nano Energy 2017, 38, 419-427).
Wearable systems for self-powered healthcare applications
As far as the development of wearable electronics is concerned, power supply has always been the bottleneck to overcome. Dr. Lin’s group utilized commercial textiles and proteins/hydrogels to fabricate biocompatible, portable, and lightweight nanogenerators to harvest biomechanical energy from human motions or thermal energy in the environment to directly power wearable electrochemical systems for humidity/temperature/sweat detections (ions, glucose, and lactate) and antibacterial applications. The developed wearable systems also show their adaptability to be integrated with next-generation smart clothes. This innovative concept is going to furtherly demonstrated to harvest the kinetic energy of blood flow (powering the implanted electronics) and design for the self-powered detection of biomarkers (selected recent publications: Nano Energy 2018, 50, 513-520; Nano Energy 2017, 42, 241-248; Nano Energy 2017, 38, 419-427; Nano Energy 2020, 69, 104407; Nano Energy 2018, 49, 588-595).
Non-photoactive nanocatalysts for disinfection and biomedical applications
The highly reactive nature of reactive oxygen species (ROS) is the basis for widespread use in healthcare and biomedical research fields. Conventionally, there is only one kind of catalysts used for ROS generation: photocatalysts (like TiO2). However, its usage has been limited due to various environmental and physical factors. To address this problem, Dr. Lin’s group reported piezoelectric (like MoS2) and thermoelectric (like Bi2Te3, Sb2Te3 and PbTe) materials as piezocatalysts and thermocatalysts which can produce ROS (like ·OH, ·O2- or H2O2) under a vibration or surrounding temperature difference, respectively. Being prevalent environmental factors in daily life, related mechanical stimuli and thermal effects have tremendous potential for practical applications. Vibration triggered ·OH/·O2- formation by piezocatalysts or temperature difference induced H2O2 generation by thermocatalysts results in the effectively oxidative damage of bacteria, which makes both of them highly promising for real-time disinfection applications. As a whole, the concepts presented here highly promote the merits of piezocatalysts and thermocatalysts for round-the-clock ROS generation that can open a new direction towards sustainable environmental remediation and biomedical applications. (selected recent publications: Nature Communications 2021 12, 180; Nano Energy 2019, 57, 14-21; Nano Energy 2018, 53, 1-10).