Researchers have built an electricity generator that can harvest energy from the most gentle movements. They say their device can produce a steady current to power consumer electronics using a gentle breeze, flowing water from a tap or normal body movement.
The Georgia Tech and Chinese Academy of Sciences team, led by materials science and engineering professor Zhong Lin Wang, report the generator creates electricity by harvesting static from a rotating disc that rubs against another stationary one. This static electricity generation, a phenomenon called the triboelectric effect, is the same that causes people who have shuffled their shoes across a carpet to get a shock when they touch something else.
Their work is reported in the journal Nature Communications today. In it, Wang’s team demonstrates the hand-sized triboelectric generator (TEG) recharging a smartphone and powering LEDs, a digital alarm clock and a wireless transmitter. They say the four-inch-diameter device is already sufficiently low-cost and energy-dense to operate electronics and could be ratcheted up to large-scale power generation.
Click through for more images and to see how much power the device puts out.
Tiny filters measuring just one-atom thick might be the next generation of technology that efficiently separates salt and impurities from water. Researchers report that they have successfully punched subnanoscale holes in graphene, the sheets of bound carbon atoms known to be one of the strongest materials on Earth.
They fired metal ions at the graphene to disrupt the bonds between carbon atoms, which naturally form into hexagonal rings that look like chicken wire. The graphene was then etched with a solution that dissolved the weakened bonds and formed densely packed pores.
“We bombard the graphene with gallium ions at high energy,” said Sean O’Hern, an MIT graduate student who led the research, in a university statement. “That creates defects in the graphene structure, and these defects are more chemically reactive.”
This week on Txchnologist, we talked to engineers have made powerful muscles from fishing line and sewing thread that could one day make superstrong robots. These inexpensive materials could let robots make subtle facial expressions and lift tons from here to there.
University of Limerick researchers have doubled the battery life of lithium-ion batteries while also speeding up their charge times. The scientists hope to improve battery technologies to make electric-vehicle use more widespread.
With some cute food science innovations, martinis are made even better with tiny alcohol-powered boats that can navigate the high seas of a glass. Chemical and Engineering News visited celebrity chef Jose Andres’ culinary lab to see what other gadgets were adding flare to cocktails.
We also learned about SensFloor, an advanced flooring that monitors movement and can tell when someone is walking or may have fallen. Such a system is being used in a few European nursing homes to make sure senior citizens are safe.
McGill University engineers, meanwhile, have made a counterintuitive discovery: engraving microscopic cracks in glass actually makes it 200 times tougher. Researchers were inspired by the mother-of-pearl coating in mollusk shells.
Now we’re bringing you the news and trends we’ve been following this week in the world of science, technology and innovation.