Some day, putting your smartphone on the car seat next to you while driving could recharge the phone's battery.
How? By absorbing tiny vibrations, such as those on a seat surface of a moving vehicle, and converting those vibrations into electrical energy.
Development of such a device, called a mesoporous piezoelectric nanogenerator, is being done on the UW-Madison campus by assistant professor Xudong Wang, part of a multi-university team looking at doing away with the need for corded battery chargers.
"We believe this development could be a new solution for creating self-charged personal electronics," Wang said in a news release from UW-Madison Communications.
Wang, student Yanchao Mao and others from Sun Yat-Sen University in China and the University of Minnesota-Duluth are working on the device.
The system works this way:
A common polymer is etched by nanoparticles, with the resulting "pores" acting like a sponge to absorb vibration energy.
The nanogenerator could become an integrated part of an electronic device, such as on the back or in the housing of a cellphone, automatically harvesting energy from ambient vibrations to power the device directly.