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article imageCould smart devices use their owners as an energy source?

By Tim Sandle     Sep 29, 2018 in Technology
Smart devices could soon tap their owners as a battery source according to proof-of-concept research from a British university.
Scientists from the University of Surrey's Advanced Technology Institute write that technological progress is moving closer to a point where smart devices could become able to use their owners as an energy resource, through self-powering batteries drawing on kinetic energy.
The researchers have been examining an alternative solution for powering the future-state electronic devices. This is by deploying Triboelectric Nanogenerators (TENGs). TENGs are devices that can capture energy from common energy sources such as wind, wave, and machine vibration.
Video, triboelectric nanogenerator demonstration developed by the UW-Madison MRSEC:
A TENG is a type of energy harvesting device that exploits the contact between two or more materials to produce an electric current. These materials can be hybrid, organic or inorganic. The triboelectric effect is a type of contact electrification on which certain materials become electrically charged after they come into frictional contact with a different material.
The scientists have come up with an interactive guide outlining the process for constructing the most effective energy harvesters. The research provides a "TENG power transfer equation" and "TENG impedance plots." These are computational tools that can assist with improving the design for power output of TENGs. The researchers state this redefines the way physicists have previously understand energy harvesting
According to lead researcher Professor Ravi Silva: "TENGs could play a major role in making this dream a reality. TENGs are ideal for powering wearables, internet of things devices and self-powered electronic applications. This research puts the ATI in a world leading position for designing optimized energy harvesters."
From this the researchers think they can address the potential of triboelectric nanogenerators, and design future optimized energy harvesting units for next generation wearable electronic devices.
The new research has been published in the journal Advanced Energy Materials, with the research paper titled "Nature of Power Generation and Output Optimization Criteria for Triboelectric Nanogenerators."
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