The harnessing of small amounts of kinetic energy, is a task particularly well suited to triboelectric devices. These devices make use of the fact that all materials have a unique affinity for electrons. As a consequence, when one material is pushed into contact with a second, different material, a small electric current is generated. If the natural movement of leaves could be used to bring them repeatedly into close contact with a material that possessed appropriate properties, then through the principles of triboelectricity, useful electric current could be generated.
The careful selection of materials is crucial in order to maximize the amount of current that a triboelectric device can generate, . In a recent work, Ning Wang, Zhong Lin Wang, Xia Cao and co-workers, they conducted a series of experiments in which electrodes were attached to leaves and these leaves were vibrated against various plastics. The resulting electric currents and voltages were measured and compared. One of the combinations with the best results, used the leaf of the Hosta tree and the polymer, PMMA.