Kiel Nano, Surface and Interface Science (KiNSIS)

Diels-Planck-Lecture 2019: Professor Dr. Zhong Lin Wang

WangOn Tuesday, 18 June, the priority research area Kiel Nano, Surface and Interface Science (KiNSIS) at Kiel University (CAU) awarded the Diels-Planck Lecture for the sixth time. The award went to Professor Zhong Lin Wang of the Georgia Institute of Technology, USA, for his pioneering contributions to the development of nanogenerators and self-powered systems - microscopically small electrical generators, which could operate mobile devices with energy derived from the smallest movements. The award is made every year by the roughly 100 KiNSIS members to honour internationally-renowned scientists from the field of nano, surface and interface science. In addition, the priority research area yesterday honoured the best dissertations from nano and surface research of the past year. The award ceremony, which took place in the framework of the "Intelligent Materials" conference, was accompanied by the music of "Trio Total" from Kiel.

Pioneer in nanotechnology

"We are very proud to be able to welcome one of the pioneers in Nanotechnology here today," said CAU President Professor Lutz Kipp at the opening of the event. Wang, Director of the Center for Nanostructure Characterization at Georgia Tech and a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, is a leader in the development of zinc oxide nanostructures, in particular nanogenerators. They can generate cost-effective and decentralised electricity from small mechanical movements. This technology has influenced science and industry as “energy harvesting”. This refers to the use of energy which already exists in the environment, such as body and water movements, air currents or temperature differences. In addition to powering mobile devices, there are also potential biomedical applications in sensors, or uses for portable electronics in smart textiles.

"Wang is a pioneer in nanotechnology, whose visionary work not only established new research fields, but also coined such key terms such as ‘piezotronics’," said Rainer Adelung, professor of functional nanomaterials at the CAU, in his laudation. Wang has also developed important fundamentals for nano-scientific investigation methods such as scanning transmission electron microscopy. He is one of the world's five most cited scientists in the field of nanotechnology, has published more than 660 scientific articles and holds 28 patents.

The ocean as a source of renewable energies

With the idea of ‘blue energy’, Wang described a new way of using the ocean, for example, as a source of renewable energy. "This goes way beyond solar and wind energy: a network of nanogenerators, which converts the movements of the waves into electricity, could make a significant contribution to the power supply. After all, the ocean covers about 70 percent of the earth, and there are waves day and night, regardless of the weather," said the physicist, underlining the potential of his technology, in a lecture held during the award ceremony. Wang's so-called triboelectric nanogenerators (TENGs) work by means of two layers of material, which are repeatedly connected with each other and separated. Within the contact of these layers electrical charges are built up, which can be used for the generation of electricity, which is called the triboelectric effect. "This principle represents a new approach to meeting the energy challenges of our time like Big Data or the Internet of Things," continued Wang.

Press release Kiel University, 20.06.2019

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