The engineering of molecular packing in amino acid crystals for the enhanced triboelectric effect

Hui Yuan, Jiaojiao Zhang, Sigal Rencus-Lazar, Zewei Ren, Ruikang Lin, Ehud Gazit*, Rusen Yang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Biomolecule-based materials have attracted increasing attention for the fabrication of environmental-friendly triboelectric nanogenerators (TENGs) owing to the inductive effect with strong electron-donating ability from [sbnd]NH2 groups. However, understanding the relationship between molecular packing and performance is extremely challenging due to the complex structures, thus limiting the designability of highly efficient triboelectric biomaterials at the molecular level. Here, we describe minimalistic yet mechanically robust ordered amino acid crystals formed by physical vapor deposition and utilized as positive triboelectric materials. The morphologies and electrostatic potential could be optimized by rationally tuning the chirality-dependent supramolecular spatial arrangement, which results in a 50% increase in the output voltage of the corresponding TENGs. Interestingly, the electric field-induced directional molecular packing results in a surface comprising charged amino groups that could easily lose electrons for charge separation, which more than doubled the output voltage of TENGs. The amino acid crystal-based TENG showing enhanced performance could serve as a micro-power source to drive light-emitting diodes and as a sensor to detect body movements. Our work provides insight into exploring the triboelectric effect of biomaterial crystals and paves an avenue to high-performance electric devices for bioengineering applications by designing biomolecule-based functional materials.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108375
JournalNano Energy
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2023


FundersFunder number
National Natural Sciences Foundation of China Bilateral3145/19
National Natural Science Foundation of China51973170, 52192613, 12002054, 52202186
Ministry of Science and Technology of the People's Republic of ChinaSQ2021YFE010405
Israel Science Foundation
China Scholarship Council202006960032
Xidian University21103200005
Ministry of Science and Technology, Israel3–18130
Natural Science Foundation of Shaanxi Province2019JCW-17, 2020JCW-15
Fundamental Research Funds for the Central UniversitiesJC2107, ZDRC2205


    • Biological crystal
    • Electric field
    • Molecular packing
    • Sensor
    • Triboelectric nanogenerator


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