Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Electrical and Computer Engineering

First Advisor

Massood Z. Atashbar, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Bradley J. Bazuin, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Binu B. Narakathu, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Dinesh Maddipatla, Ph.D.


Enegry harvesting, self powered electronic devices, sensors, triboelectric nanogenrators


Triboelectricity is a promising technique for energy harvesting in which mechanical energy converts to electricity for powering small electronic devices. This method of energy harvesting serves as an alternative to traditional battery power sources and can significantly benefit low-power sensing applications by generating unlimited electrical energy. This study focuses on the development of flexible triboelectric nanogenerators (TENG) and energy harvesting devices for various applications in the automotive industry.

The study is organized into four projects. In the first project, various polymeric materials were used to investigate the performance of different TENGs. Four designs (D1, D2, D3, and D4) of flexible TENGs were successfully fabricated in three different configurations (C1, C2, and C3). The fabricated TENGs consist of a top triboelectrically charged layer made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET), thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), or fabric for D1, D2, D3, and D4, respectively. The bottom triboelectrically charged substrate is Kapton for designs D1 and D2, and a polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) layer for designs D3 and D4. Two screen-printed silver electrodes were used for D2 and D4, and two copper electrodes were used for D1 and D3. Multiple configuration cases and fabrication techniques were considered to determine the best material combination for better TENG performance.

In the second project, a flexible TENG was successfully designed and tested in a lateral sliding mode. The sliding-TENG consists of a flexible PET as a positively charged triboelectric top layer, a flexible polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) as a negatively charged triboelectric bottom layer, and aluminum tapes as electrodes. The fabricated TENG was proposed to be used as a smart seatbelt detector in various automotive applications.

In the third project, a screen-printed TENG was successfully fabricated and tested in a lateral sliding direction. The TENG consists of a Kapton film as a negatively charged triboelectric layer; and silver metal as a positively charged triboelectric layer, which was screen-printed in patterns on the inner side of the Kapton film to represent the base electrodes. Silver ink was also printed on the outer sides of the Kapton film to serve as the top and bottom electrodes. The performance of the TENG was simulated using COMSOL Multiphysics® software, and its capability was experimentally investigated in terms of open circuit voltage (Voc), short circuit current (Isc), and power generation.

In the fourth project, a novel e-Gear selector based single electrode TENG was successfully fabricated on flexible substrates. The proposed device consists of four TENG sensors (TENG1, TENG2, TENG3, and TENG4) that reflect the traditional gear shift selector (P, R, N, and D). Natural cow leather, natural cotton, heavy-duty paper, and TPU were selected as the bottom triboelectric layers for TENG1, TENG2, TENG3, and TENG4, respectively. Silver ink was screen-printed on the backside of each layer, which represents single electrode sensors. Then, human skin was chosen as the top triboelectric layer. Based on the selection of materials, each TENG device generates different output voltages, which enable the selection of the intended gear mode without the need for a complex control algorithm.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access