Questions for ‘What powers these electronics? We do!’


Batteries not required. This foldable keyboard (shown with its inventor Nelson Sepúlveda) can harvest energy from keystrokes.

G.L. Kohuth/MSU

To accompany feature “What powers these electronics? We do!”


Before Reading

1.  Think about the devices in your home (or your pocket) that use electrical power. What are some ways that that power can be generated?

2.  How do traditional ways of generating electrical power put a strain on the planet?      

During Reading:

1.  Why did Nelson Sepúlveda want to find a new way to power tiny electronic devices?

2.  What is mechanical energy, and how did Sepúlveda picture “harvesting” it to generate electricity?

3.  What does the word nano mean?   

4.  What are three types of everyday movement that researchers are harnessing with nanogenerators?

5.  What does the word triboelectric mean?

6.  What is the alternative to batteries that Zhong Lin Wang and his colleagues introduced in 2012? What does it look like?

7.  What is special about the TriboElectric NanoGenerator, or TENG, that Fan and Wang worked to develop in 2015?  

8.  What might Fan and Wang’s device be used for, according to the article? 

9.  What generates the electrical current in the device that Sepúlveda designed?   

10.  What are three challenges that must be overcome before nanogenerators can be useful in the real world? 

After Reading:

1.  Think about your school lunchroom. What sources of mechanical energy there do you think scientists might consider harnessing to power nano devices?

2.   What does it mean for energy to be renewable? Describe at least three types of renewable energy, besides the nanogenerators discussed in this article?