Electricity-generating rubber chips could power cell phones, more

By on January 28, 2010, 3:59 PM
Engineers at Princeton University have developed power-generating rubber films that could use energy from everyday body movements such as breathing and walking to power cell phones, pacemakers and more.

The "piezo-rubber chips" are made of lead zirconate titanate (PZT) nanoribbons embedded in silicone rubber sheets and produce electricity when flexed. PZT, said to be the most efficient piezoelectric material, is able to convert 80% of applied mechanical energy to electrical energy, making it 100 more times efficient than quartz, according to Princeton professor Michael McAlpine.


Currently, up to 100 PZT strips can fit in a millimeter of space, and since it's being placed on silicone, the technology is biocompatible. McAlpine says the chips could be implanted in the body to perpetually power medical devices, and the body wouldn't reject them. It could also be used in shoes to generate power from walking, and much more.

Interestingly, while the chips create electricity when flexed, the reverse is also true, they flex when electrical current is applied, opening the door for even more possibilities. Princeton didn't mentioned when the technology might find mainstream use.




User Comments: 13

Got something to say? Post a comment
TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Geez...who the hell thinks up this stuff??

Staff
Matthew Matthew, TechSpot Staff, said:

People who are far more ambitious than myself.

Eddie_42 Eddie_42 said:

TomSEA said:

Geez...who the hell thinks up this stuff??

Professors at Princeton.

Pretty nifty stuff. I can see this getting used in a way to harness natural energy. Wind and waves to be particular. Semi depend on the energy it takes to move it: If its like a piece of salt-water taffy or flexible like a bed sheet.

It would also be important to note the power capacity. a few micro volts? maybe even a whole volt?

Timonius Timonius said:

Human electric power plants! Hmmmmm....

Tekkaraiden Tekkaraiden said:

That is really kewl.

compdata compdata, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I have been watching the piezoelectric material advances for years. It is getting closer and closer to being commercially viable for everyday use, and will certainly bring a lot of advances in micro electronics and robotics.

compdata compdata, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Eddie_42 said:

It would also be important to note the power capacity. a few micro volts? maybe even a whole volt?

Power generating capacity is defined by the amount of Watts something can generate. Voltage is only half of the equation. P= V * I (where I = current in Amps).

Wikipedia has a very good article on Piezoelectric material if you are interested:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piezoelectric

Puiu Puiu said:

I want numbers. Can it really power a phone just by walking a few steps or do we need to jog kilometers just to talk for a minute.

fwilliams said:

lets call it called flubber

now you can charge your electric car with peddle power

TorturedChaos, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

The tech sounds really cool. All sorts of possibilities for it, but I do have to wonder like this guy...

Puiu said:

I want numbers. Can it really power a phone just by walking a few steps or do we need to jog kilometers just to talk for a minute.

I know the it says you can fit "up to 100 PZT strips can fit in a millimeter of space", so even if they don't put out a lot of power they don't take up much space. But how many would you need to say keep your cell phone charged? Or an MP3 player charged?

SgtBlades said:

fwilliams said:

now you can charge your electric car with peddle power

I think we might just see a modern flintstones

Guest said:

Damn! What now?! While the world is busy fighting the terrorist and the terrorism, good scientist are all busy building good stuff...but are they really good enough for us? This one invention of Princeton University Professor might put everyone in danger...not only he discover it as good as it is, he also put everything in jeopardy specially our world we live now. Oh, well F*** it all! Now, we need to be more carefull than ever...!

Guest said:

Wow. Imagine the factory that produces these things. I worked at a regular RAM factory and am still in shock at how much resources it takes to make them. Could this actually be worth the long term effects such as resource depletion, pollution (from fabrication and disposal), new kinds of cancer or psychological damage to users of this technology? There is a Tesla quote something like, "our technology has surpassed our humanity".

Load all comments...

Add New Comment

TechSpot Members
Login or sign up for free,
it takes about 30 seconds.
You may also...
Get complete access to the TechSpot community. Join thousands of technology enthusiasts that contribute and share knowledge in our forum. Get a private inbox, upload your own photo gallery and more.