Lansing, December 12: We rely on our cell phones for our every need to get through the day. These handheld mini computers keep us connected, but they also keep us tied up. While portable battery packs are helping us charge our devices, they can be expensive and bulky. But what if there was a better option?
Researchers at Michigan State University have developed a new way to charge your phone. Charging your smartphone with just a finger swipe is the new way.
Researchers from Michigan State University created technology that draws power from human motion. The film-like device, is called a biocompatible ferroelectret nanogenerator (FENG), and could be a new way to harvest energy. The new, low-cost device can even be folded to generate more power.
Engineers say they recently proved it works. They were able to operate three different devices — an LCD touchscreen, a bank of 20 LED lights, and a flexible keyboard — all without batteries.
"We're on the path towards wearable devices powered by human motion," said Nelson Sepulveda, associate professor at Michigan State University in the US. "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," said Sepulveda.
The FENG is lightweight, flexible and environmentally friendly. The FENG may be as thin as piece of paper, but the technology is scalable, a feature that will allow the nanogenerator to be used in many different devices. For instance, when the engineers used the FENG to power the LED lights, they used a palm-sized device, and the device used to power the touch screen was about as small as a finger.
The remarkable new device is fashioned from silicon wafers, which are composed of different layers of environmentally friendly substances including silver, polyimide and polypropylene ferroelectret. Engineers then added ions so each layer in the device contains charged particles that generates electrical energy when the compressed by human motion or mechanical energy.
Sepulveda explained that if you wanted to increase the amount of energy collected, all you have to do is fold the device. “Each time you fold it you are increasing exponentially the amount of voltage,” he said. “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.”
An associate professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Michigan State University, Sepulvida says, "If we are able to completely harvest the energy that is dissipated from the from the human heel strike, you should be looking at charging your smart phone completely by just regular walking during a day."