An electrifying discovery: New material to harvest electricity from body movements
Scientists are reporting an advance toward scavenging energy from walking, breathing, and other natural body movements to power electronic devices like cell phones and heart pacemakers. In a study in ACS' monthly journal, Nano Letters, they describe development of flexible, biocompatible rubber films for use in implantable or wearable energy harvesting systems. The material could be used, for instance, to harvest energy from the motion of the lungs during breathing and use it to run pacemakers without the need for batteries that must be surgically replaced every few years. Michael McAlpine and colleagues point out that popular hand-held consumer electronic devices are using smaller and smaller amounts of electricity. That opens the possibility of supplementing battery power with electricity harvested from body movements. So-called "piezoelectric" materials are the obvious candidates, since they generate electricity when flexed or subjected to pressure. However, manufacturing piezoelectric materials requires temperatures of more than 1,000 degrees F., making it difficult to combine them with rubber.
The scientists describe a new manufacturing method that solves this problem. It enabled them to apply nano-sized ribbons of lead zirconate titanate (PZT) — each strand about 1/50,000th the width of a human hair — to ribbons of flexible silicone rubber. PZT is one of the most efficient piezoelectric materials developed to date and can convert 80 percent of mechanical energy into electricity. The combination resulted in a super-thin film they call 'piezo-rubber' that seems to be an excellent candidate for scavenging energy from body movements.
Source: American Chemical Society
- An electrifying discovery: New material to harvest electricity from body movementsfrom Science CentricThu, 25 Feb 2010, 9:00:31 EST
- An electrifying discovery: New material to harvest electricity from body movementsfrom PhysorgWed, 24 Feb 2010, 15:14:16 EST
- 'Piezo-Rubber': New Technology Harvests Electricity From Body Movementsfrom Scientific BloggingWed, 24 Feb 2010, 12:21:20 EST
Latest Science NewsletterGet the latest and most popular science news articles of the week in your Inbox! It's free!
Learn more about
Check out our next project, Biology.Net
From other science news sites
Popular science news articles
- Signs of ancient megatsunami could portend modern hazard
- International research team finds thriving wildlife populations in Chernobyl
- A simpler way to estimate the feedback between permafrost carbon and climate
- Mysterious ripples found racing through planet-forming disk
- Ancient rocks record first evidence for photosynthesis that made oxygen
- A snapshot of Americans' knowledge about science
- Researchers identify 3 new fossil whale species of New Zealand
- Burning remaining fossil fuel could cause 60-meter sea level rise
- Stanford scientists produce cancer drug from rare plant in lab
- The reason why middle class people are more likely to play music, paint and act revealed