In this study, nanopiezoelectric devices based on ZnO nanorod array/conducting polymers are fabricated for wearable power generation application. To replace the inorganic rigid indium-tin oxide (ITO) conducting coating commonly used in the nanogenerator devices, a series of flexible polyaniline-based conducting copolymers underlying the perpendicularly-oriented ZnO nanorod arrays has been synthesized with improved electric conductivity by the copolymerization of aniline and 3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene (EDOT) monomers in order to optimize the piezoelectric current collection efficiency of the devices. It is found that significantly higher conductivity can be obtained by small addition of EDOT monomer into aniline monomer solution using an in-situ oxidative polymerization method for the synthesis of the copolymer coatings. The highest conductivity of aniline-rich copolymer is 65 S/cm, which is 2.5 times higher than that for homopolymer polyaniline coating. Subsequently, perpendicularly-oriented ZnO nanorod arrays are fabricated on the polyaniline-based copolymer substrates via a ZnO nanoparticle seeded hydrothermal fabrication process. The surface morphology, crystallinity, orientation, and crystal size of the synthesized ZnO nanorod arrays are fully examined with various synthesis parameters for copolymer coatings with different monomer compositions. It is found that piezoelectric current generated from the devices is at least five times better for the device with improved electric conductivity of the copolymer and the dense formation of ZnO nanorod arrays on the coating. Therefore, these results demonstrate the advantage of using flexible π
-conjugated copolymer films with enhanced conductivity to further improve piezoelectric performance for future wearable energy harvesting application based on all wet chemical coating processes.
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