Soon, you’ll be able to charge your smartphone just by moving

WASHINGTON: A team of researchers, one of whom has Indian ancestry, has invented an ultra-thin device that can charge your smartphone, fitness tracker, and other electronic devices using human motions like walking and waving.

The energy harvesting device, which is based on battery technology and is constructed from layers of black phosphorus that are just a few atoms thick, creates little quantities of power when it is bent or squeezed, even at the very low frequencies that are typical of human motion.
Cary Pint, an assistant professor at Vanderbilt University in the United States, predicted that in the not-too-distant future, “I expect that we will all become charging depots for our personal devices by pulling energy directly from our motions and the environment.” This prediction was made by Pint.

The novel technology, in comparison to the existing systems aimed to collect energy from human motion, offers two basic benefits, according to the researchers who worked on the project. The materials are atomically thin and small enough to be impregnated into textiles without affecting the look or feel of the fabric. Additionally, they are able to extract energy from movements that are slower than 10 Hertz, which translates to 10 cycles per second, across the entire low-frequency window of movements corresponding to human motion, as stated by the researchers.

According to Nitin Muralidharan, a doctorate student at Vanderbilt who was engaged in the creation and testing of the gadget, extracting useful energy from motion with such a low frequency has proved to be an incredibly difficult challenge. For instance, a number of research organisations are now working on the development of energy harvesters that are based on piezoelectric materials. These materials transform the mechanical strain that they experience into electricity.

On the other hand, the frequencies over 100 Hertz tend to bring forth these materials’ full potential. This indicates that they do not operate for more than a minute portion of any human movement, which results in restricted efficiency of less than 5-10% even when the circumstances are ideal, according to the findings of the study.
“Our harvester is projected to function at an efficiency of over 25 percent in an ideal device configuration,” said Pint. “What’s more noteworthy is that it harvests energy during the full length of even sluggish human movements, like sitting or standing.”

He said that an electric clothing system may be one of the most far-reaching uses of this technology in the future. It might provide electricity for clothing that are infused with liquid crystal displays, enabling the user to alter the colours and patterns of the garment by swiping on their smartphone.

“When scaling the performance to the thickness and regions of the garments we wear,” Pint said, “we are already measuring performance inside the ballpark for the power need for a medium-sized low-power LCD panel.”

Published at : 10 Aug 2022 10:52 AM (IST)

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