Wave Goodbye to Battery Power
Posted by Lauren Rugani on April 3, 2009
Electronic devices and their various components are getting smaller by the day. While some technologies like cell phones and ipods are still large enough to incorporate industry-standard batteries; others, like environmental and biological sensors are small enough to be implanted under the skin or be mistaken for a piece of dust – but still need a reliable and size-compatible power source.
Researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology might have found a solution: nanowires that generate electricity in response to a broad range of movements like a waving hand or a heartbeat. These nanogenerators produce power continuously so outlet power or even rechargeable batteries are unnecessary. They found that zinc-oxide nanowires were best suited for this application because they are flexible, easy to “grow” and operate effectively in air or liquid environments.
Because the nanowires respond to low-frequency movements, they have a wide range of potential applications from environmental sciences to defense applications like sensing bioterror agents to powering personal electronics. Although they show a lot of promise, the researchers are still working to improve output power and voltage, so no nanowire-powered cars just yet.