Is aboutnanogeneradores that extract the mechanical energy that we producewalking, with the beat of our heart or even that coming from the flow of bloodthrough the body. They can also generate electricity in response to the wind. Although they do not produce large volumes of energy, they could provide enough torecharge an iPod, for instance.
According to Zhong Lin Wang, head of the study, the advance lays the foundation for anew generation of “portable electronic devices that charge with energy without the need for batteries or electric recharges”. Among potential future applications, Wang suggests implanted insulin pumps that are powered by the heartbeat, or environmental sensors powered by breeze-powered nanogenerators.
The key to this technology arezinc oxide nanowires (ZnO), with a diameter so small that 500 of them would occupy the width of a human hair. These nanowires are piezoelectric, and they can generate an electrical current when stretched or flexed by any proximate movement, such as a heartbeat.
The researchers also developed an efficient way to deposit the nanowires onto flexible polymer chips, each the size of a quarter of a postage stamp. Five of these nanogenerators placed together produce about 1 microampere of 3 volt current,approximately the same voltage as two AA batteries. Wang estimates that the product could revolutionize the market within three to five years.