Piezoelectric materials have been shown to be effective in structural health monitoring systems as a result of their unique electromechanical coupling.  Previous research has demonstrated that piezoelectric materials have the potential to harvest energy from structural vibration.  Similar to traditional piezoceramics, ZnO possesses piezoelectric properties which makes it well-suited for a variety of applications, such as sensors and energy harvesting device.   This work investigates the potential of ZnO NWs embedded in carbon fiber reinforced composites for energy harvesting with the goal of developing self-powered devices for structural health monitoring systems.  The objectives of this work are to grow ZnO NWs on glass fiber and using carbon fiber as electrodes and to evaluate the energy harvesting capabilities of the CFRP composite beam.  The experiments demonstrate that ZnO nanowires can be used to generate small amounts of power through energy harvesting.

Some example publications:

Masghouni, N., Burton, J., Philen, M., and Al-Haik, M., “Investigating the energy harvesting capabilities of a hybrid ZnO nanowires/ carbon fiber polymer composite beam,” Nanotechnology Vol. 26, No. 9, 2015.

Borougeni, A., Philen, M., and Al-Haik, M., "Smart Hybrid ZnO Nanowire/carbon Fiber Reinforced Polymer Composites with In-situ Structural Health Monitoring Capability." American Society of Composites-30th Technical Conference, 2015.

Groo, L., Chung, H., Borougeni, A., Emami, A., Al-Haik, M., Philen, M., “Characterization of ZnO Piezoelectric Nanowires In Energy Harvesting For Fiber-Reinforced Composites,” Proceedings of the ASME 2015 Conference on Smart Materials, Adaptive Structures and Intelligent Systems, Colorado Springs, Colorado, September 21-23, 2015.

Offenberger, S.  Boroujeni, A., Emami, A., Al-Haik, M., and Philen, M., “Fiber Reinforced Composites with Zinc Oxide Piezoelectric Nanowires for Structural Health Monitoring and Enhanced Interlaminar Strength,” 20th International Conference on Composite Materials in Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark, July 19-24, 2015.