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Vibration Energy the Secret to Self-Powered Electronics

A prototype for self-powered electronics.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have developed a device that could be key to creating self-powered electronics.

Credit: Xudong Wang/University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Minnesota Duluth, and Yat-sen University say they have developed a promising solution for charging smartphone batteries on the go, without the need for an electrical cord. Their solution involves the use of a nanogenerator that could harvest and convert vibration energy from a surface into power for the phone.

"We believe this development could be a new solution for creating self-charged personal electronics," says University of Wisconsin-Madison professor Xudong Wang.

The nanogenerator utilizes a common piezoelectric polymer material called polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF), and the researchers incorporated zinc oxide nanoparticles into a PVDF thin film to start the formation of the piezoelectric phase that enables it to harvest vibration energy. The researchers then etched the nanoparticles off the film, resulting in interconnected pores that cause the material to behave somewhat like a sponge.

"The softer the material, the more sensitive it is to small vibrations," Wang says.

He says the nanogenerator could become an integrated part of an electronic device and automatically harvest energy from ambient vibrations to power the device directly.

From University of Wisconsin-Madison
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