By Laura Shin
Posting in Energy
Normally, typing on your phone uses up a bit of its battery life. But a new breakthrough could use the pressure from your typing to charge the battery.
It's Murphy's Law: the more you use your phone, the less battery power you have.
But a new breakthrough could make the opposite true: the more you use your phone, the more battery life you have.
A team of Australian researchers has pioneered a technique that exploits a simple fact: every time you tap on your phone, you use a bit of energy to do so.
They turned that mechanical energy into electricity -- and, in the process, showed the way to ever-charged batteries for smartphones and all kinds of devices.
The researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne and Australian National University (ANU) combined piezoelectrics, which are materials that can convert mechanical pressure into electrical energy, with thin-film technology to generate power by tapping.
In the past, piezoelectric thin films have failed commercially because they were not able to calculate how much power would be created by a particular amount of pressure.
This ANU article quotes lead co-author Dr. Madhu Bhaskaran from RMIT:
This is the first time we have been able to say that applying a particular amount of pressure will create specific values of voltage or current. By characterising piezoelectric thin films for the first time, it takes it a step closer to the next level technology or integrating it into existing technology.
So far, she and her team, who published their result in the June 21st issue of Advanced Functional Materials, have only been able to generate small amounts of energy through the films. Their next step is to determine how to amplify the voltage while integrating them into small, low-cost structures that can be used by microchips, which are central to devices like smartphones and computers.
She expects it will be two or three years before piezoelectrics are routinely incorporated into gadgets. And at that point, it sounds like she envisions them everywhere, as she said in this Physorg.com story:
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.
If that happens, then you definitely won't need the solar-powered bikini to power your phone.
photo: James Giggacher
Jun 21, 2011
I agree with jt. The output of this is going to be nominal. You are not going to get rid of chargers with this, but you might be able to get 5% more time between charges. That can matter for a power text user like a teen.
I have a windup battery that also can charge my phone. It takes a whole lot of winding for very little charging. Pressing button will not charge your phone to any significant degree.
Maybe they could take this one step further and eliminate the batteries entirely! If the piezo effect can instantaneously generate the voltage needed, why bother storing the energy in the first place? Maybe even carry this over to static electricity and have the house cat power your electric razor...
This will not be necessary as soon as parents are offered the option of a cell phone wetwire implant on birth.
How about using the energy of movement to generate electricity, as a bridge technique, while they fix the piezoelectric dilemma? Movement has been used in watches for ages, to rewind them, as the user moves around. Wouldn't it be a more permanent solution to the "ever-charging" of batteries since movement of the smartphone happens far more often, in a day, than the energy used to tap... or, maybe, combine both methodes to keep the batts charged,
Very fantastically amazing news for the users of phones as they are going to be blessed with the great unimaginable chance of charging their phones very easily. Tariqul Alam