Band Bending and Ratcheting Explain Triboelectricity in a Flexoelectric Contact Diode

Karl P. Olson, Christopher A. Mizzi, Laurence D. Marks*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Triboelectricity was recognized millennia ago, but the fundamental mechanism of charge transfer is still not understood. We have recently proposed a model where flexoelectric band bending due to local asperity contacts drives triboelectric charge transfer in non-metals. While this ab initio model is consistent with a wide range of observed phenomena, to date there have been no quantitative analyses of the proposed band bending. In this work we use a Pt0.8Ir0.2conductive atomic force microscope probe to simultaneously deform a Nb-doped SrTiO3sample and collect current-bias data. The current that one expects based upon an analysis including the relevant flexoelectric band bending for a deformed semiconductor quantitively agrees with the experiments. The analysis indicates a general ratcheting mechanism for triboelectric transfer and strong experimental evidence that flexoelectric band bending is of fundamental importance for triboelectric contacts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3914-3921
Number of pages8
JournalNano letters
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 25 2022


  • Band structures
  • Contact mechanics
  • Flexoelectricity
  • Schottky diodes
  • Triboelectricity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Bioengineering
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)


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