Right before I disappeared for the July 4 holiday weekend, to a place where posting to this blog wasn't an option, researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, published some data about the ability of "piezoelectric" thin films to convert mechanical pressure into electric impulse. Translation: touching or putting pressure on these materials could create a charge.
The research, published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials, suggests that by using these nanomaterials to create a new generation of thin film coatings, product designers could create electronic devices capable of self-charging.
Notes lead co-author Madhu Bhaskaran:
"The power of piezoelectrics could be integrated into running shoes to charge mobile phones, enable laptops to be powered through typing or even used to convert blood pressure into a power source for pacemakers -- essentially creating an everlasting battery."
Plenty of research and development attempts at technologies for harvesting kinetic energy have fallen apart because of the complexity and expense. When I first started writing this blog several years ago now, I was particularly intrigued by a start-up called M2E Power. But that company couldn't get its model to work, and its assets were picked up by another entrepreneurial concern called Motionetics that has yet to disclose much publicly about its direction.
Last year, I wrote about the Tremont Electric nPower Peg, a $159.99 kinetic charging device that is now widely commercially available. The Australian researchers believe that thin film is the only practical way of pulling this off. Interestingly, as I was poking around for other background reading about this topic, I discovered that Nokia patented a piezoelectric charging approach in 2010.
So, what do you think?