Georgia Tech scientists have developed the world's first gadget powered solely by piezoelectric materials, by packing 20,000 nano wires into three square centimeters. A piezoelectric material creates a mild electrical charge, when pushed or pulled. So the technology promises generating electricity, with every step.
The researchers think that with in four or five years, we will be able to recharge a cell phone or laptop battery after even a short walk, if piezoelectric nano wires are woven into a cotton shirt or placed in a shoe heel.
"This is a key step to designing technology that will be useful in the near future," says Z. L. Wang, the professor at Georgia Tech, who conduct the studies.
Piezoelectric wire can generate voltages up to 1.26 or even higher volts. The team used plentiful and easy-to-manipulate zinc oxide nano wires to come up with their nanogenerator.
An individual zinc oxide nano wire is invisible to the human eye, measuring between 50 and 200 nanometers across and about five microns in length.
20,000 nano wires, cover around three centimeters if placed side-by-side and end-to-end. There will be two thin electrodes, hanging off in both the ends. The method of arrangement will increase the electricity produced.
The wires work in sync, amplifying the electrical charge to record levels as the single layer is pushed back and forth with the slightest nudge.
Pushing the arranged nano wires harder or faster would enhance the power output up to 30 times without damaging the device.
With zinc oxide nano wires, the power out put will be increased almost by 10 times.
The researchers think that piezoelectric-powered devices could also help detecting fires and collecting weather data in the areas that are not with in the reach of traditional power grids.