Technological breakthrough could generate free power for portable devices using simple body movements

Wednesday, March 30, 2011 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: nanogenerators, portable power, health news

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(NaturalNews) Imagine never again having to charge your mobile phone or portable music device using a wall plug and batteries, but instead be able to charge such devices simply by moving your body. Scientists from the Georgia Institute of Technology (GIT) say that their breakthrough discovery could revolutionize the way portable electronic devices are powered, and may one day eliminate the need for external charging systems.

"This development represents a milestone toward producing portable electronics that can be powered by body movements without the use of batteries or electrical outlets," said Dr. Zhong Lin Wang from GIT. "Our nanogenerators are poised to change lives in the future. Their potential is only limited by one's imagination."

The way the device works is through the utilization of zinc oxide nanowires, which a recent report in the UK Telegraph explains can generate electricity by being strained or flexed. Such straining and flexing can be accomplished by simple movements like pinching one's fingers or even walking down the street -- virtually any movement at all causes them to generate electricity.

Researchers have utilized this same technology in previous applications, but the current GIT discovery is thousands of times more powerful than those were. The new nanogenerators capture the power of millions of nanowires, effectively multiplying their collective power exponentially. As a result, just five of them combined with one another successfully produce the same voltage as that of two AA batteries.

"While a few volts may not seem like much, it has grown by leaps and bounds over previous versions of the nanogenerator," said Wang. "Additional nanowires and more nanogenerators, stacked together, could produce enough energy for powering larger electronics, such as an iPod or charging a cell phone."

The technology still needs improvement, but it has already successfully powered liquid crystal displays (LCDs), electric diodes, and even a radio signal transmission, according to reports.

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