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Triboelectric harvester, Energy Harvesting, TKR, Gait loading


Triboelectric energy harvesting is a relatively new technology showing promise for biomedical applications. This study investigates a triboelectric energy transducer for potential applications in total knee replacement (TKR) both as an energy harvester and a sensor. The sensor can be used to monitor loads at the knee joint. The proposed transducer generates an electrical signal that is directly related to the periodic mechanical load from walking. The proportionality between the generated electrical signal and the load transferred to the knee enables triboelectric transducers to be used as self-powered active load sensors. We analyzed the performance of a triboelectric transducer when subjected to simulated gait loading on a joint motion simulator. Two different designs were evaluated, one made of Titanium on Aluminum, (Ti-PDMS-Al), and the other made of Titanium on Titanium, (Ti-PDMS-Ti). The Ti-PDMS-Ti design generates more power than Ti-PDMS-Al and was used to optimize the structural parameters. Our analysis found these optimal parameters for the Ti-PDMS-Ti design: external resistance of 304 M Ω, a gap of 550 µm, and a thickness of the triboelectric layer of 50 µm. Those parameters were optimized by varying resistance, gap, and the thickness while measuring the power outputs. Using the optimized parameters, the transducer was tested under different axial loads to check the viability of the harvester to act as a self-powered load sensor to estimate the knee loads. The forces transmitted across the knee joint during activities of daily living can be directly measured and used for self-powering, which can lead to improving the total knee implant functions.

Publisher Attribution

Article accepted for publication in the Journal of Intelligent Material Systems and Structures, SAGE Publishing, DOI:



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