Sick of the battery going dead in your cell phone? Worried by the environmental impact of batteries? Both concerns could soon be a thing of the past thanks to a radical device that uses nanotechnology to allow you to power your cell phone and other electrical devices with your own body. The Georgia Institute of Technology has come up with a way to charge up cell phones with a flick of your own finger.
“You need to move anyway,” notes the director of the Centre for Nanostructure Characterization and Fabrication at Georgia Tech, Dr Z L Wang, “so why not use the energy instead of losing it?” Wang came up with the idea after realizing that while electrical devices continue to get smaller, they also continue to be reliant on oversized batteries. “I realized that instead of batteries we can harvest energy from our living environment to power these devices,” says Wang. A fine wire made out of zinc oxide, which contains a property enabling it to change any strain applied to it into electricity measuring just one hundred nanometers is the secret to the technology. “When we use thousands of millions of wires as an array, we have a high enough output to drive small electronics,” Wang points out, but rather than having to attach thousands of millions to yourself, just one small pack will do, with tiny pads attached to your fingertips that could charge up almost anything. “If you walk for thirty minutes, you can charge your cell phone,” he says. Best of all, the technology is ‘biologically safe’ for you and “offers no contamination” to the environment.