Recent advances of cellular stimulation with triboelectric nanogenerators

Triboelectric nanogenerators (TENGs) are portable and wearable energy collection devices. TENGs have five working modes, whose principle can be summarized as the conversion of mechanical energy to electrical energy by triboelectrification and electrostatic induction between the two materials. According to this, TENGs can be used on cell stimulation, which plays a variety of biological effects in the medical field, showing great application prospects.


Triboelectric nanogenerators (TENGs) are new energy collection devices that have the characteristics of high efficiency, low cost, miniaturization capability, and convenient manufacture. TENGs mainly utilize the triboelectric effect to obtain mechanical energy from organisms or the environment, and this mechanical energy is then converted into and output as electrical energy. Bioelectricity is a phenomenon that widely exists in various cellular processes, including cell proliferation, senescence, apoptosis, as well as adjacent cells’ communication and coordination. Therefore, based on these features, TENGs can be applied in organisms to collect energy and output electrical stimulation to act on cells, changing their activities and thereby playing a role in regulating cellular function and interfering with cellular fate, which can further develop into new methods of health care and disease intervention. In this review, we first introduce the working principle of TENGs and their working modes, and then summarize the current research status of cellular function regulation and fate determination stimulated by TENGs, and also analyze their application prospects for changing various processes of cell activity. Finally, we discuss the opportunities and challenges of TENGs in the fields of life science and biomedical engineering, and propose a variety of possibilities for their potential.

Author list:

Xingyu Zhou, Gaocai Li, Di Wu, Huaizhen Liang, Weifeng Zhang, Lingli Zeng, Qianqian Zhu, Puxiang Lai, Zhen Wen, Cao Yang*, Yue Pan*

How to cite:

X. Zhou, G. Li, D. Wu, H. Liang, W. Zhang, L. Zeng, Q. Zhu, P. Lai, Z. Wen, C. Yang, Y. Pan, Exploration 2023, 3, 20220090.