Powering your cell phone with sound is no longer the crazy idea that Korean Researchers decided to pursue some years ago. It is now getting much closer to realization than anyone has ever expected, as a team of scientists at NOKIA and Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) managed to generate enough electricity from sound vibrations to charge a device.
Following the example of Young Jun Park and Sang-Woo Kim, the guys from NOKIA and QMUL decided to explore further the piezoelectric properties of zinc oxide. They applied a thin coating of the chemical onto a plastic sheet, exposed it to high temperature and converted it into a very thin sheet of nanorods. When exposed to mechanical stress, or sound, the nanorods bend and produce electrical charge.
The next step was to find a way to harvest the energy so that it is made suitable for charging electronic devices. For the purpose, the team placed the nanorod sheets between two thin electrical contact sheets. Just to make it that little bit cooler, and of course more affordable, instead of using gold to make the contact sheets, they decided to use aluminium foil instead.
The result- a device, the size of a Nokia Lumia 925, which can generate as much as five volts only from being exposed to typical daily noise from traffic, music or even talking people. This is quite huge, especially when compared to the modest 50 millivolts that the other guys were able to produce.
Although the technology is still a prototype, it is way closer to becoming viable than ever before. The findings of the research open up incredible possibilities, and hold the potential to eliminate once and for all that terrible feeling of running out of battery when you most need your cell phone.
Who knows? Maybe the time when we need to speak on our cell phone more in order to keep batteries full, is just around the corner.
Image (c) Telco systems