By Prarthana Mitra
To solve the legitimate and limiting problems involved in charging electronic devices, a study recently published in science journal Nano Energy posits a ground breaking and much needed solution—one that dispenses of plugging your phone into a power socket.
Researchers at the University at Buffalo and the Chinese Academy of Science (CAS) published a paper in January wherein they proposed the blueprint for alternative charging.
How does it work?
Making use of a small metallic tab and a bit of physiological movement, triboelectric charging can help convert and harness contact static electricity into a useful power source.
Since the human body is naturally endowed with an abundant power source, scientists have developed a special slab that can supposedly overcome the usual challenges when it comes to harnessing this energy, cost-effectively.
The metallic tab, made of two thin crumpled layers of gold with a slab of a silicon based polymer sandwiched in between. Upon the application of external force, movement between the layers of gold and the polymer creates friction, which can then charge your electronic device.
Why you should care
The enhanced performance exhibited by the special metallic tab in the trial, was quite stable and realiable, showing great promise for future wearables and self-powered electronics. With the help of this robust and wearable triboelectric nanogenerator, our gadgets will no longer require them to be plugged into an outlet.
As the internet of things (IoT) dramatically and constantly improves our lives with state-of-the-art portable and wearable electronics, they are also dependent on traditional methods of charging. For them to achieve their fullest potential, the problem of powering them also needed to be addressed.
This simple, low-cost and controllable surface modification method enables devices to draw power from a small metallic tab which when attached to the body, can generate electricity by simply bending a finger.
“No one likes being tethered to a power outlet or lugging around a portable charger. The human body is an abundant source of energy. We thought: ‘Why not harness it to produce our own power?’” says study author Qiaoqiang Gan in a press release. Once fully developed, searching for a power outlet or charging point may soon be a thing of the past.
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