Some weeks back, news about a breakthrough battery technology broke out. Developed by University of Central Florida (UCF) scientists, it makes use of supercapacitors that can supposedly charge a smartphone to full battery power in seconds, and keep it going for several days.
Now there’s another promising charging technology in the works. The best thing about it is what it makes use of to generate energy — human motion. That’s right. The more you move, or in the case of your mobile phone, the more you use it, the more power it generates.
Developed by a team of scientists from the Michigan State University, the device is called a biocompatible ferroelectret nanogenerator, or FENG. Based on the findings published in the Nano Energy journal, the FENG is capable of successfully operating an LCD touch screen, a bank of 20 LED lights and a flexible keyboard. And, it does this without any battery. Instead, it powers electronic devices through touching or pressing motions.
To build the nanogenerator, a silicone wafer is fabricated with several thin layers of substances that include silver, polyimide and polypropylene ferroelectret (all environmental-friendly materials), plus ions or charged particles. To produce electrical energy, the device simply needs compression via human movement.
Aside from the way it is able to generate electrical energy, what makes the device even more impressive is its ability to become even more powerful when it gets folded. And the more you fold it, the more energy it creates and stores. It’s also scalable — you can make bigger ones to charge bigger devices, and you can make smaller ones to charge smaller devices. It’s flexible as well. You can start with a large device, then fold it until becomes small enough to carry. That works two ways too — it becomes portable, and if you put it in a place where it gets compressed as you move, you make it even more powerful.
As Nelson Sepulveda, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering and the one leading the research, said in a press release: “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.”
If everything goes well and progresses as hoped, we might soon have the means to charge our cell phones and other electronic devices by simply moving around and about.