One of the biggest issues with keeping batteries in a myriad of devices charged is how to generate the electricity needed to charge them. Work around the world is being done on new methods of generating electricity from wind power to harnessing the power of ocean waves.
A group of researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology has announced a new breakthrough that could one day provide power to cell phones and other electronics devices by generating electricity from blood flow in the body.
The researchers have devised a method that allows the generation of energy by converting low-frequency vibrations from body movement, heartbeat, blood flow, and the wind into electricity. The discovery uses zinc oxide nanowires that generate electricity when subjected to mechanical stress.
The nanowires are very small at about 1/5,000th of the diameter of a human hair and about 1/25th of the length of a human hair. According to researcher Zhong Lin Wang from the Georgia Institute of Technology, the nanowires can be grown on materials like metals, ceramics, polymers, and clothing.
Wang told MSNBC, "His research will have a major impact on defense technology, environmental monitoring, biomedical sciences and even personal electronics."
Wang sees the technology being integrated into military clothing where electricity can be generated and used to power devices in the field such as radios and night vision goggles. The nanowires could also be used to power biosensors implanted under the skin.
Wang said, "Quite simply, this technology can be used to generate energy under any circumstances as long as there is movement." Wang and his team's research was funded by DARPA.
A group of students from MIT also recently announced the development of a shock absorber for vehicles that uses the up and down motion when driving to generate electricity. Shock absorbers of this type could be used in future hybrid or electric vehicles to increase the electric powered run time.