Graduate Student Jian Shi and Engineering Assistant Professor Xudong Wang at the University of Wisconsin-Madison came up with a new device that is able to convert small amounts of mechanical energy into electricity.
In other words, the device could be used to capture energy from respiration. The secret of this innovation is the plastic microbelt (polyvinylidene fluoride) that generates an electric charge whenever low-speed airflow passes over it and causes it to vibrate. This phenomenon is known as the piezoelectric effect.
The piezoelectric system can use your breath to power body-implanted microdevices such as a cardiac pacemaker, or any device that uses electric impulses to work.
“Basically, we are harvesting mechanical energy from biological systems. The airflow of normal human respiration is typically below about two meters per second. We calculated that if we could make this material thin enough, small vibrations could produce a microwatt of electrical energy that could be useful for sensors or other devices implanted in the face,” says Wang.