Electric potential produced in deformed piezoelectric nanostructures is of significance for both fundamental study and practical applications. To reveal the piezoelectric property of ZnO nanohelices, the piezoelectric potential in single-crystal nanohelices was simulated by finite element method calculations. For a nanohelix with a length of 1200 nm, a mean coil radius of 150 nm, five active coils, and a hexagonal coiled wire with a side length 100 nm, a compressing force of 100 nN results in a potential of 1.85 V. This potential is significantly higher than the potential produced in a straight nanowire with the same length and applied force. Maintaining the length and increasing the number of coils or mean coil radius leads to higher piezoelectric potential in the nanohelix. Appling a force along the axial direction produces higher piezoelectric potential than in other directions. Adding lateral forces to an existing axial force can change the piezoelectric potential distribution in the nanohelix, while the maximum piezoelectric potential remains largely unchanged in some cases. This research demonstrates the promising potential of ZnO nanohelices for applications in sensors, micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) devices, nanorobotics, and energy sciences.
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