Yesterday my cell phone battery was dead just after lunch – poor signal combined with heavy use killed it quickly. That is a tale all-too familiar to many. But imagine if walking could help recharge your devices, or typing on your phone screen? That is exactly the technology being described in the new edition of the technical journal Advanced Functional Materials.
Here are some details:
This ANU article quotes lead co-author Dr. Madhu Bhaskaran from RMIT:
This is the first time we have been able to say that applying a particular amount of pressure will create specific values of voltage or current. By characterising piezoelectric thin films for the first time, it takes it a step closer to the next level technology or integrating it into existing technology.
So far, she and her team, who published their result in the June 21st issue of Advanced Functional Materials, have only been able to generate small amounts of energy through the films. Their next step is to determine how to amplify the voltage while integrating them into small, low-cost structures that can be used by microchips, which are central to devices like smartphones and computers.
Apparently the technology isn’t new, but:
“The concept of energy harvesting using piezoelectric nanomaterials has been demonstrated but the realisation of these structures can be complex and they are poorly suited to mass fabrication.
It isn’t yet clear the extent to which this could be realized or any sort of timeline, but the technology has already made amazing progress so we can hope to see it soon!