Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology have
reported successful testing of nanoscale devices that are capable of generating
small amounts of electricity from blood flow or the contraction of blood
vessels in the body.
Regents’ Professor Zhong Lin Wang and his colleagues at Georgia Tech's School
of Materials Science and Engineering state that the nanogenerators could be
used to power nanoscale medical devices within the body. This would do away
with the need for batteries or other external power sources.
“It sets a solid foundation for self-powering implantable and wireless
nanodevices and nanosystems in biofluid and any other type of liquid,"
Wang said in a recent
interview with United Press
The article, scheduled to appear in the August 9 issue of the Nano Papers journal, describes how the
team created working nanogenerators from a single strand of zinc oxide nanowire
and a nanowire belt. Using arrays of vertically-aligned nanowires that move
inside a novel “zigzag” plate electrode, the devices are able to continuously
produce electricity using a phenomenon known as the piezoelectric effect. Zinc
oxide and other piezoelectric materials are able to convert mechanical energy —
such as flexing or twisting — into electricity.
In addition to converting the energy from blood flow into electrical current,
the devices could also harness muscle contractions and a variety of other
organic bodily functions, according to the researchers. "The technology
has the potential of converting mechanical movement energy (such as body
movement, muscle stretching, blood pressure), vibration energy (such as
acoustic/ultrasonic wave), and hydraulic energy (such as flow of body fluid,
blood flow, contraction of blood vessels) into electric energy," the article
The researchers say that future generations of the technology could be used to
create wireless self-powered nanodevices, to charge battery-powered devices and
to build larger electric power generators.
The Georgia Tech research on nanogenerators at has been funded in part by the
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the National Science