Nano-carbon electrodes for energy devices


Investigators from the University of Surrey, the University of Wollongong and North Carolina State University are working together to discover new sources of energy for wearable applications and devices.

From entertainment to fitness and healthcare, multi-function wearable electronics are helping people perform a multitude of tasks. We are all potentially our own source of renewable energy capable of powering our own smart devices. This project encourages all of us to imagine a healthcare system in which intrusive cords and cables are no longer required, as your own body heat creates enough energy to power wearable health-monitoring electronics.

We know our bodies are capable of generating high amounts of heat, but how exactly do we harvest this resource? How do we convert it, store it and access it? This international team of researchers have begun to delve in to these questions and aim to develop an innovative design of wearable thermocells capable of harvesting body heat (thermal energy) to self-power body-worn smart electronics.

The team are also looking into additional sources of power such as those garnered from waste heat sources, building cooling systems and refrigeration, water treatment works and environmental sources such as ground and water that retain solar heat and are well placed to take advantage of recent developments in nanotechnology.

The University of Surrey is set to establish a hub that will make the manufacturing of smart materials and self-powered electronics a reality in the UK. The £4.2m project, awarded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is supported by 32 partner organisations including the Advanced Technology Institute (ATI) and the 5G Innovation Centre (5GIC) at Surrey. New facilities are expected to be operational in 2018.

Key researchers

Dr. Carol Crean
University of Surrey
Associate Professor Jun Chen
University of Wollongong
Professor Xiangwu Zhang
NC State University