That shock you get from dragging your shoes on the carpet could one day be harnessed into nanogenerator technology to charge your personal electronics.
Zhong Lin Wang, a professor at Georgia Tech, has been working on this idea for several years. Initially focusing on piezoelectric materials that generate an electric voltage under mechanical stress, the outcome was less than impressive.
The new approach: static electricity and friction. Like rubbing a balloon on your head and making your hair stand on end, this energy combined with a type of plastic, polyethylene terephthalate and a metal could produce the power to charge your phone.
Made to nanoscale proportions for the optimum production of power, when these materials are rubbed together they generate a current of which 10-15% could be converted into electricity.
Wang says, “The choice of materials is wide, and fabricating the device is easy.” But, to work in the real world a device from MIT, an energy scavenger, will be needed to pick up on the vibrations that provide the most energy.
Whether this new technology will work outside of the lab remains to be seen but the ability to walk and charge your phone at the same time would let users go longer between charges.
Source: MIT Technology Review