Friction Could Charge Future Cell Phones

Researchers at Georgia Tech think they can harness energy created when we walk, fidget, or even breathe and could soon use that power medical implants, perhaps even mobile phones.

According to Technology Review, a nanogenerator made from inexpensive materials might provide constant device re-charging in the near future. Zhong Lin Wang, a professor of materials science at Georgia Tech, and others think the triboelectric effect, which is essentially static electricity and friction. Using a type of plastic, polyethylene terephthalate, a metal, and covering them with nano particles to increase the surface area, the researchers. Currently they can get 15 percent of the energy converted into electricity. With different materials, they propose that figure could be as high as 40 percent.

The Review states that "a fingernail-sized square of the triboelectric nanomaterial can produce eight milliwatts when flexed, enough power to run a pacemaker. A patch that’s five by five centimeters can light up 600 LEDs at once, or charge a lithium-ion battery that can then power a commercial cell phone."

More details can be found here.