What would be groundbreaking is harnessing the energy that will allow us to “cut” the wire once and for all – making our lives a whole lot easier!
Remember using a solar powered calculator in maths class? Don’t allow me to let you feel old; but they have been around for decades!
“Solar cells (also known as photovoltaics) absorb ordinary light and convert it directly to electricity using layers of semiconductors.”
There is ongoing research to put this kind of technology in handheld electronic devices, but there have been a few setbacks. In order for traditional solar cells to provide enough output power for something as hungry as a cell phone, it would need to be:
Unfortunately neither of these conditions is very practical for a cell phone. You can find solar charging cases on the market though, which is a step in the right direction.
However, the engineers of Massachusetts Institute of Technology used the idea of harnessing the heat that the device creates itself, and converting that into electricity. Their prototype battery is able to charge itself at temperatures of 20°C to 60°C.
Unfortunately the battery designed by Dr Chen and his team is only button sized at this stage, but they are on the way to making this usable for the masses.
Did you know that once something moves or vibrates, it can be stopped in such a way that the resulting potential energy can be captured and then converted into electricity.
The most known example would be Hybrid cars They make use of this kinetic energy every time the driver steps on the brakes. Electricity is captured and channeled back into the batteries, which also saves fuel and money .
Zhong Lin Wang and Jinhui Song demonstrated the conversion of vibrational energy to electrical energy using piezoelectric nanowire arrays. When piezoelectric crystals are squeezed, they produce a small amount of electricity. While the amount of energy captured is generally too small to power a device, recent advances in nanoscale structures are boosting their efficiency. It could mean that eventually, we will be able to charge our phones just by squeezing them…or at least something connected to them!
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