Enhanced mechanical energy conversion with selectively decayed wood | Science Advances

Producing electricity from renewable sources and reducing its consumption by buildings are necessary to meet energy and climate change challenges. Wood is an excellent “green” building material and, owing to its piezoelectric behavior, could enable direct conversion of mechanical energy into electricity. Although this phenomenon has been discovered decades ago, its exploitation as an energy source has been impaired by the ultralow piezoelectric output of native wood. Here, we demonstrate that, by enhancing the elastic compressibility of balsa wood through a facile, green, and sustainable fungal decay pretreatment, the piezoelectric output is increased over 55 times. A single cube (15 mm by 15 mm by 13.2 mm) of decayed wood is able to produce a maximum voltage of 0.87 V and a current of 13.3 nA under 45-kPa stress. This study is a fundamental step to develop next-generation self-powered green building materials for future energy supply and mitigation of climate change.