Nanotech Battery Breakthrough Hints at Eternal Energy


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If you’re not familiar with piezoelectrics, it’s a good time to get current. (Here all week, folks.) Researchers at RMIT University and Australian National University have finally quantified the voltage output of piezoelectric nanofilms — thin film materials capable of converting pressure into electrical energy.

The voltage output of up to 40 mV and current transients up to 200 pA, compare very well to published results for nanowire generators of 30 mV and 100 pA which were shown to be suitable for powering nanosensors. [ 24 ] The effective power generated is 250 W mm^- 2 at 5.0 mN force.

Applications for this kind of pressure-turned-power are limited only by the scale-up logistics of mass producing the films. Imagine a laptop powered by typing or clicks. Or shoes that charge your iPod while you work out. As long as a force is acting upon the film, energy is being produced–so, theoretically, until the film is damaged in a way that renders it incapable of transferring energy, the output is potentially unlimited.

There are no hard and fast projections for when (or if) the new batteries will reach market, but when they do, it’s safe to say they’ll be around for a while.

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21 Responses to Nanotech Battery Breakthrough Hints at Eternal Energy

  1. Well wouldn't just putting an object on top of the film produce pressure? You could have houses built upon this film and gravity would take care of the rest.

    • Not quite, it’s like electromagnetic induction – it only works when there’s change…

      Press on it, you get a surge of current, release the pressure, you get another.

      Just keeping constant pressure on wouldn’t produce any current.

    • Not quite, it's like electromagnetic induction – it only works when there's change…

      Press on it, you get a surge of current, release the pressure, you get another.

      Just keeping constant pressure on wouldn't produce any current.

  2. Or imagine having shocks that power your car with every bump.  Maybe if there was a way to get this to work on tires, this would really be something.

  3. Or imagine having shocks that power your car with every bump.  Maybe if there was a way to get this to work on tires, this would really be something.

  4. The hardest part, as far as I can see right now is the conservation of energy law.  Finding applications that use very little energy while being able to produce more energy with the films.  EX.  I don't type fast, and I don't type that often so I'd hate to have to keep typing on my keyboard trying to keep my computer on.  I realize in certain applications it will just be to slow the discharge of a battery but how much physical activity will I have to do to make it worth while.  

    Thermodynamics.  It's the law. 

    • Just imagine using one of those bobbing liquid-filled birds to tap whatever sheet you need to power an item. Enough of those and you could possibly power a house.

      Now I want to invest in those little bobbing birds.

  5. If the foil produces a current when pressure is applied then
    they have also created a workable artificial nerve ending that can be placed
    below a protective surface and still trigger a signal.

  6. I gotta wonder how this could be used with electric cars and be inserted into special tires, then again, if this is really effective at producing electricity, it'll probably get bought out and destroyed, just like the great inventions of Tesla. Then again that was partly Tesla's  fault for being a drunkard.

  7. I gotta wonder how this could be used with electric cars and be inserted into special tires, then again, if this is really effective at producing electricity, it'll probably get bought out and destroyed, just like the great inventions of Tesla. Then again that was partly Tesla's  fault for being a drunkard.

  8. I gotta wonder how this could be used with electric cars and be inserted into special tires, then again, if this is really effective at producing electricity, it'll probably get bought out and destroyed, just like the great inventions of Tesla. Then again that was partly Tesla's  fault for being a drunkard.

  9. Is this this stuff fairly study?  I'm imagining the larger-scale possibilities, such as placing this sort of film on roads to power streetlights and city buildings.  Or on the hulls of ships as they move through the water and waves.  

    I mean, self-powered iPods are cool, but let's not limit ourselves unless there's a real reason to, such as the sturdiness of the film or the shortage of the return-on-investment when it comes to the electricty generated.

    • Andrew: 

      My understanding is that the films are difficult to produce in large-scale and high quantity. Given the film's flexibility and the fact that it's mostly made of plastic, there's not a durability issue–just a limitation (for the time being) in the manufacturing process.

    • Andrew: 

      My understanding is that the films are difficult to produce in large-scale and high quantity. Given the film's flexibility and the fact that it's mostly made of plastic, there's not a durability issue–just a limitation (for the time being) in the manufacturing process.