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Piezoelectric materials can generate current and do math

Posting in Energy

Georgia Tech researchers are creating a new type of material that might one day be used to spy and monitor environmental threats.

James Bond would have loved to get his hands on piezoelectric materials. Literally when you twist or bend piezoelectric material, it generates a charge.

So if microbots were made with piezoelectric materials, they could roam around and listen in on conversations, all while generating current.

A showy display of the technology is its use in nightlife. A London club uses piezoelectric materials to light its dance floor, so drunken dance moves can easily turn into power. (Just don't anyone tell the British what bad dancing is, scientists actually studied this with sensors and all.)

However, the applications of this self-powered material are more diverse than that. Imagine if microbots are deployed and could intelligently investigate places and people more discretely.

For the first time, Georgia Tech researchers have figured out how to make this material generate electricity and perform a calculation at the same time.

The study was published in Nano Letters, Advanced Materials. The researcher put zinc oxide onto nanowires because zinc oxide is a good semiconductor. That way, when the material moves, it produces a current when put under mechanical stress.

Right now, it only generates millivolts of electricity. That's hardly enough to charge your smart phone.

Eventually, researchers hope piezoelectrics can be added to gadgets to make them intelligent.

Either way, it would help turn regular circuits into smaller, smarter machines that could sneak their way into covert operations. These microbots will be spying in no time.

via Discovery News

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Boonsri Dickinson

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Boonsri Dickinson is a freelance journalist based in San Francisco. She has written for Discover, The Huffington Post, Forbes, Nature Biotech, Technewsdaily.com, Techstartups.com and AOL. She's currently a reporter for Business Insider. She holds degrees from the University of Florida and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure