Using Sound Waves to Charge Cell Phones


Photo via gwaar

We’ve seen ways to charge cell phones by fuel cells, sunlight, wind and even dancing. But what about with sound waves?

That might just be the next step for charging cell phones with a renewable energy – your voice. Tahir Cagin, a professor at Texas A&M; University, is figuring out a way to use piezoelectrics to harvest energy to charge devices and make them essentially self-charging gadgets. Using piezoelectric technology for energy harvesting is something we've been covering for years. But Cagin has come up with a reason to bring it up again.

He seems to have found the sweet spot – or size – for producing the material so it maximizes its energy-gathering capability.

Specifically, Cagin and his partners from the University of Houston have found that a certain type of piezoelectric material can covert energy at a 100 percent increase when manufactured at a very small size – in this case, around 21 nanometers in thickness. What's more, when materials are constructed bigger or smaller than this specific size they show a significant decrease in their energy-converting capacity, he said.

His discovery could mean big breakthroughs in charging smaller gadgets like cell phones, iPods and even laptops.

"Even the disturbances in the form of sound waves such as pressure waves in gases, liquids and solids may be harvested for powering nano- and micro devices of the future if these materials are processed and manufactured appropriately for this purpose," Cagin said.

Just imagine that – talking into your cell phone could charge its battery.

Discovered by French scientists in the 1880s, piezoelectrics aren't a new concept. They were first used in sonar devices during World War I. Today they can be found in microphones and quartz watches…On a grander scale, some night clubs in Europe feature dance floors built with piezoelectrics that absorb and convert the energy from footsteps in order to help power lights in the club. And it's been reported that a Hong Kong gym is using the technology to convert energy from exercisers to help power its lights and music.

Despite these cool ways of using piezoelectrics, developing nanoscale piezoelectric materials is new (obviously), and nanomaterial production has controversies all of its own. Even so, it will be fun to follow what happens with this technology, and if it will turn into a practical way to charge up smaller devices.

Via Science Daily
More on Piezoelectrics:
Piezoelectric Hydropower System May Power 20-40% of Pennsylvania Town
Piezoelectric Backpack Concept: Take a Walk, Charge Your Gadgets
GROW: Solar/Piezoelectric Concept Comes to MoMA

Tags: Cell Phones | Electronics | Gadgets | Nanotechnology

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