New "world record" in triboelectricity

In a recent research study, researchers from Mid Sweden University show that cellulosic materials can generate an electrical power density of more than 300 watts per square meter. The research has been published in the highly ranked journal Advanced Materials.

Christina Dahlström förevisar cellulosamaterial
Dr. Christina Dahlström, Mid Sweden University, showing the triboelectric cellulosic material.

"No one has been able to show a similar result earlier, which is why we, a little "cocky" perhaps, can call it a new "world record" for cellulose materials. We are beginning to approach significant electrical power densities that have only been measured for fully synthetic materials previously", says Renyun Zhang, associate professor at Mid Sweden University, FSCN research centre.

The electrical energy generated has been used in the study to demonstrate how an emergency exit sign is lit by patting two cellulose surfaces against each other. To compare, a solar cell generates approximately half the power (approx. 150 W / m2).

"We use static electricity that is generated by friction that occurs when two cellulose surfaces with slightly different surface chemistry come into contact with each other repeatedly. The phenomenon is called triboelectrification", says Christina Dahlström, senior lecturer at Mid Sweden University, FSCN research centre.

"The technology is very interesting, as all forms of kinetic energy that otherwise are wasted can be utilized. With the technology we can create useful electricity. For example, vibrations from a machine can be converted triboelectrically to drive sensors that can wirelessly send signals about the machine's status. Then no electricity supply is needed in the form of batteries for example", says Renyun Zhang.

The research developed at Mid Sweden University is a collaboration between the research groups in Materials Physics, Surface and Colloid Engineering, Electronics Design and researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Beijing Institute of Nanoenergy and Nanosystems.

"It is a real breakthrough that has the potential to be developed into many new types of applications for cellulose in the future. We have worked purposefully for almost five years with funding from both the Swedish Research Council and FORMAS to understand cellulose from the fundamental level. It is really exciting that it is now starting to see results even in areas we had not really expected from the beginning, says Magnus Norgren, professor of chemical engineering at Mid Sweden University, FSCN research centre.

The article can be downloaded via


Renyun Zhang, Associate Professor, Mid Sweden University,, 010-142 82 84
Christina Dahlström, senior lecturer, Mid Sweden University,, 010-142 88 13
Magnus Norgren, Professor, Mid Sweden University,, 073-074 60 90



Triboelectric nanogenerators