Thermal energy can be effectively converted into electricity using pyroelectrics, which act as small scale power generator and energy harvesters providing nanowatts to milliwatts of electrical power. In this paper, a novel pyroelectric harvester based on free-standing poly(vinylidene difluoride) (PVDF) was manufactured that exploits the high thermal radiation absorbance of a screen printed graphene ink electrode structure to facilitate the conversion of the available thermal radiation energy into electrical energy. The use of interconnected graphene nanoplatelets (GNPs) as an electrode enable high thermal radiation absorbance and high electrical conductivity along with the ease of deposition using a screen print technique. For the asymmetric structure, the pyroelectric open-circuit voltage and closed-circuit current were measured, and the harvested electrical energy was stored in an external capacitor. For the graphene ink/PVDF/aluminum system the closed circuit pyroelectric current improves by 7.5 times, the open circuit voltage by 3.4 times, and the harvested energy by 25 times compared to a standard aluminum/PVDF/aluminum system electrode design, with a peak energy density of 1.13 μJ/cm3. For the pyroelectric device employed in this work, a complete manufacturing process and device characterization of these structures are reported along with the thermal conductivity of the graphene ink. The material combination presented here provides a new approach for delivering smart materials and structures, wireless technologies, and Internet of Things (IoT) devices.
- energy harvesting