Photo of Yunlong ZI

Energy & sustainability

Yunlong ZI

He developed high-performance triboelectric nanogenerators, moving us closer to a smart future.

Year Honored

Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (Guangzhou)

Asia Pacific

Hails From
Asia Pacific

Internet of Things, smart cities, intelligent factories, the realization of a large portion of our imagination for life in the future relies on successfully powering the widely-distributed small devices such as sensors and e-stickers. Using power cables can be technically challenging and costly, while batteries suffer from a limited lifetime and high maintenance costs.

To address the power supply issue, scientists started looking at harvesting mechanical energies, such as vibrations, body motions, airflows, and water waves to produce renewable electricity. The triboelectric nanogenerator (TENG), which utilizes the coupled effects of the triboelectric effect and electrostatic induction for renewable power generation, is one of the most intriguing ideas.

Yunlong Zi, an associate professor at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Guangzhou, China, is a pioneer in designing efficient TENG devices. By coupling triboelectricity and photonics, he demonstrated the concept of “tribophotonics." He designed a finger-nail-sized self-powered wireless sensing e-sticker that can transmit signals up to 30 meters without using batteries or wires. He also developed the strategies to achieve high-performance TENG for effective energy harvesting and set multiple new records in output charge density, energy density, and peak power density. These accomplishments are moving us closer to a smart future driven by TENGs.