Talk about the rubber hitting the road. Researchers from Princeton and Caltech have come up with a power-generating rubber material that could harness walking and other movement to charge electronic devices.
The material is made from nanoribbons composed of lead zirconate titanate, or PZT, a ceramic substance that's "piezoelectric," meaning it generates an electrical voltage when pressure is applied. The "piezo-rubber chips" are embedded in clear silicone rubber sheets that produce electricity when flexed.
The scientists--who detail their findings in the new issue of Nano Letters, a journal of the American Chemical Society--say the rubber sheets could one day appear in shoes that power cell phones and other mobile electronic devices as the user walks or runs.
What's more, "the new electricity-harvesting devices could be implanted in the body to perpetually power medical devices, and the body wouldn't reject them," said Michael McAlpine, an assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton who led the project.
For example, the biocompatible material could be placed next to a person's lungs and utilize breathing motions to power pacemakers, the scientists say. That could reduce the need for surgery to replace batteries in the device.
We've heard of other gadgets that can be powered by kinetic energy, including the Dance Charge, which is strapped around the arm and powered, as the name suggests, by dancing.… Read more