Michigan State University (MSU) researchers say they have developed a new method for harvesting energy from human motion, using a film-like device that can be folded to create more power.
The researchers used a low-cost nanogenerator to operate a liquid-crystal display touchscreen, a bank of 20 lights, and a flexible keyboard, all with a touching or pressing motion and with no battery.
The new method starts with a silicone wafer that is fabricated with several thin sheets of environmentally friendly substances, and then ions are added so each layer in the device contains charged particles. Electrical energy is created when the device is compressed by mechanical energy, such as human motion. The device, called a biocompatible ferroelectret nanogenerator (FENG), is as thin as a sheet of paper and can be adapted to many applications and sizes.
The researchers say FENG provides benefits that could make the device a promising and alternative method in the field of mechanical-energy harvesting, and they note the device becomes more powerful when folded. "Each time you fold it you are increasing exponentially the amount of voltage you are creating," says MSU professor Nelson Sepulveda.
The researchers currently are developing technology that would transmit the power generated from a heel striking the ground to a wireless headset.
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