Mobile phones and laptops are so liked and loved in the modern world. But only till their power lasts, right? Once the power gets exhausted, they cause untold embarrassment till they are charged again. Suppose these gadgets power themselves from our day-to-day movements? Wonderful idea, you think? Yes, this is going to be a reality soon.
Two scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Tom Krupenkin and J. Ashley Taylor, have recently demonstrated an energy-harvesting technique called ‘reverse electro-wetting’, an innovative technology whereby one could make battery juggling and phone-charger blues a thing of the past
Till now, we have lacked a mechanical-to-electrical energy conversion technology by which we could use the powerful energy produced in ourselves.
Electro-wetting involves making tiny liquid dots move across surfaces, by applying varying electrical currents — in essence gaining mechanical energy from electrical energy. It has a number of hi-tech uses.
By reversing the process, electricity can be produced — from the natural movement of those same tiny liquid dots. The team’s ‘micro-fluidic device’, stuck into the user’s shoe, takes full advantage of this amazing property.
It contains a nano-structured surface, mixed up with a countless number of liquid micro-droplets. As the user walks, and strikes the ground, these droplets interact with the specially-shaped surface, thus producing the electrical charge.
Although only a fraction of the energy produced through walking is captured – up to 20 watts – that matches the power needs of many mobile devices.
In short, the technology promises to reduce power-use, free-up electrical gadgets and cut back on the pollution and waste problems burdening the disposal of millions of dead batteries. And, just maybe, the fitness of the ‘smart-phone generation’ could soar too – especially when a quick jog round the block will help keep your vital little device fully charged.
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