Goodbye battery woes: tech to charge phones from human motion is here


Science fiction movies are, as the name would suggest, largely fictitious, but as someone once said, there is an element of truth in every lie. The Matrix depicted the human body as a power source, and this might turn out to be possible after all. Likewise, clothes that double up as cell phone chargers could soon be a reality, as researchers have found a way to generate electricity from human motion.

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Researchers from the Nanomaterials and Energy Devices Laboratory, Vanderbilt University, have developed an ultra-thin energy harvesting system that can generate small amounts of electricity when bent or pressed even at extremely low frequencies like that of human motion. According to IANS, Cary Pint, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Vanderbilt University, said,

"In the future, I expect that we will all become charging depots for our personal devices by pulling energy directly from our motions and the environment."
Image: (L) – The Medicine Journal; (R) – Business Insider

Based on battery technology, the device is made from layers of black phosphorus only a few atoms thick.

The energy harvesting system was described in a paper titled 'Ultralow Frequency Electrochemical Mechanical Strain Energy Harvester Using 2D Black Phosphorus Nanosheets', published on June 21 in ACS Energy Letters.

One of the futuristic applications of this technology might be electrified clothing. It could power clothes impregnated with liquid crystal displays that will allow wearers to change colours and patterns with a swipe of their smartphones.

"The materials are atomically thin and small enough to be impregnated into textiles without affecting the fabric's look or feel and it can extract energy from extremely low-frequency movements," added Pint.

Since the basic building blocks of the harvester are about 1/5,000th the thickness of a human hair, the technology could be incorporated in devices as thin as needed for specific applications.

With inputs from IANS.

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