Do you use your smart phone or portable music player often? If so, you may one day be free from the inconvenience of plugging it in to recharge the battery.
Researchers from Georgia Tech University reported recently that they had discovered a means to absorb and contain triboelectric energy – the type created, for example, when you shuffle across a carpet in your socks or rub a balloon against your hair. In their particular study, scientists used two transparent pieces of plastic material and successfully captured the energy created when they were rubbed together.
"The fact that an electric charge can be produced through this principle is well known," Zhong Lin Wang, a professor in the School of Materials Science & Engineering at the university, told green energy website EarthTechling. "What we have introduced is a gap separation technique that produces a voltage drop, which leads to a current flow, allowing the charge to be used. This generator can convert random mechanical energy from our environment into electric energy."
While still in the research and development phase, researchers conjectured that someday this technology – especially if they can perfect their current mode of energy capture – may be installed in the faces of smartphones to absorb the tiny amounts of triboelectric charges created by various finger strokes.
Wang told the source that his team of researchers had begun alternating the structures of the transparent materials, utilizing various pattern systems in a bid to create more energy. In one instance, creating pyramid shapes as opposed to a smooth surface for the plastic pieces enabled the scientists to capture more charges.
The research, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Air Force, could one day change the face of power production and reinvent the phrase "renewable energy."