Micro- and nanoscale wetting phenomena have been an active area of research due to its potential for improving engineered system performance involving phase change. With the recent advancements in micro/nanofabrication techniques, structured surfaces can now be designed to allow condensing coalesced droplets to spontaneously jump off the surface due to the conversion of excess surface energy into kinetic energy. In addition to being removed at micrometric length scales (∼ 10 μ m), jumping water droplets also attain a positive electrostatic charge (∼ 10-100 fC) from the hydrophobic coating/condensate interaction. In this work, we take advantage of this droplet charging to demonstrate jumping-droplet electrostatic energy harvesting. The charged droplets jump between superhydrophobic copper oxide and hydrophilic copper surfaces to create an electrostatic potential and generate power during formation of atmospheric dew. We demonstrated power densities of ∼ 15 pW/cm2, which, in the near term, can be improved to ∼ 1 μ W/cm2. This work demonstrates a surface engineered platform that promises to be low cost and scalable for atmospheric energy harvesting and electric power generation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)