Sustainable Energy – Class notes

Week 2

Our assignment was to bring in an energy converter to explore in class.

I have been fascinated by triboluminescence and fractoluminescence for a long time. When we talked about piezo elements in PCOMP I wanted to try to make my own piezo crystals – but even well made home brew crystals don’t generate much. So I looked more into tribo (rubbing) luminescence (light). How is it caused? How much energy can it transform? It turns out tribology is not well understood yet.

Here is some of the science:
Wired article, with video
Nature article
From the article: “nanosecond, 100-mW X-ray pulses that are correlated with stick–slip peeling events…15 keV peak” (Camara and Escobar, 2008)

Successful X-Ray from precision tape-peeling rig

This type of rapid burst, high-frequency radiation is not useful for powering a circuit, but it could be perfect for small medical applications.


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