Enhanced output performance of ZnO thin film triboelectric nanogenerators by leveraging surface limited ga doping and insulting bulk

Ping Che Lee, Yi Chen Ou, Ruey Chi Wang, Chuan Pu Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Although triboelectric nanogenerator (TENG) has been developed as a new green energy source, the dominant charge transfer mechanism regarding surface chemistry has not been fully uncovered yet, especially in semiconductor materials. Semiconductor materials are technically important not only capable of tuning total carrier concentrations available for charge transfer in TENG, but corresponding optoelectronic properties for applications into tribo-tronics. However, doping renders one serious drawback as tribo-charges tend to leak and cannot be held in place for energy output. In order to prevent carriers from leaking while maintain the characteristics of tunable carrier concentrations in semiconductors, a two-layer structure of Ga-doped ZnO/undoped-ZnO is proposed by a two-step growth methodology. A ZnO thin film was first grown by magnetron sputter followed by Ga doping restricted to a shallow surface region by thermal diffusion treatment in the second step. The results support that surface work function difference between two materials in electrification under the well preservation of tribo-charges retention governs the charge transfer capability responsible for output performance of TENGs, where the output voltage and current of the ZnO film doped with 0.93 at% Ga can be drastically enhanced by 16 and 13 times, respectively. However, β-Ga2O3 forms on the surface when Ga concentration is higher than 0.93 at%. Nevertheless, the even larger work function of β-Ga2O3 than Ga-doped ZnO does not lead to larger output performance, implying that work function difference is not the prime factor but carrier concentration in the conduction band needs to be considered for the performance of TENGs. This work demonstrated a viable method to modify the work function of ZnO only confined to the surface through doping without disturbing the bulk, optimizing the device structure for TENGs based on semiconductor.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106394
JournalNano Energy
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Nov

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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