Today, Forbes published an interesting article on some research being carried out at Queen Mary University of London on behalf of Nokia. Researchers there are fine-tuning techniques to produce materials that may one day (soon) help power smartphones using ambient noise– including (and most especially) music. That’s right… in the not-so-distant future, our phones and other small electrical devices could be recharged by sound… no more dead phones at concerts!
The technology revolves around Zinc Oxide nanotubes and the piezoelectric effect which essentially says that electricity can be generated by applying mechanical stress to certain materials (this is how Scanning Tunneling Electron Microscopy works! What? You don’t know chemistry?). The nanotubes are so small and resiliant that they bend under the mechanical stress of sound waves and generate very small amounts of electricity. By sandwiching a thin film dense with these nanotubes between two conducting materials , Dr Joe Briscoe and Dr Steve Dunn have managed to generate currents of 5V… enough to charge your smartphone! The nanotubes can be applied to many surfaces and are cheaply produced by a pH-dependent reaction at 210 degrees F (that’s not even hot enough to cook a chicken!) meaning that the technology could very well hit consumer products within the next decade.
The future is now, baby.
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