Charging your cell phone using finger swipes? Dream of powering your Bluetooth headset just by walking? These may actually happen real soon.
Engineers at the Michigan State University were able to create a new way to harvest energy from human motion through a film-like device. The researchers showed the device, which produces electrical potential when moved, was able to power an LCD screen, a bank of 20 LED lights, and a keyboard, Michigan Radio reported.
The Nanogenerator Becomes More Powerful When Folded
The device, called a nanogenerator, is as thin as a sheet of paper. It operates on a principle similar to piezoelectric effect - a property of some materials to produce an electric charge in response to stress. Piezoelectric materials are solid and inflexible, but MSU's ferroelectric nanogenerator (FENG) can be bent. As a matter of fact, it becomes more powerful when folded.
Nelson Sepulveda, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Michigan State University, said: "Each time you fold it, you are increasing exponentially the amount of voltage you are creating."
"You can start with a large device, but when you fold it once, and again, and again, it's now much smaller and has more energy. Now it may be small enough to put in a specially made heel of your shoe so it creates power each time your heel strikes the ground," he added.
Wearable Devices May Soon Be Powered By Human Motion
According to Computer World, MSU's FENG needs further studies, but the current results show great promise. "What I foresee, relatively soon, is the capability of not having to charge your cell phone for an entire week, for example, because that energy will be produced by your movement. We're on the path toward wearable devices powered by human motion," Sepulveda concluded.