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How great would it be if you could charge your phone simply by going on with your day? It may sound like science fiction, but we may be closer to this reality than you would expect.
If we were able to harvest the unused potential energy your body emits whenever it moves, we could, theoretically, use that energy to power our electrical needs. A team of engineers from Purdue University are attempting to do just that. The team, led by Wenzhuo Wu, have managed to create wearable technology that can convert mechanical energy into electrical energy. The groundbreaking technology allows for potential use in military and consumer applications, as reported by Purdue University.
The liquid-metal-inclusion based triboelectric nanogenerator, or LMI-TENG for short, is a remarkable piece of future technology that creates energy fueled from human movement. LMI-TENG gets its energy from a triboelectric nanogenerator, which is pretty much a generator that creates energy using triboelectric charging, as the name implies. Triboelectric charging happens when certain materials become electrically charged after separation from a different material in which they were in contact with.
The liquid-metal component of the technology allows the technology to be flexible, deformable, and able to morph into different shapes. It is embedded between two layers of flexible silicon. This allows the technology to be effectively attached onto our clothing and bodies.
The LMI-TENG will enable wearable electronics to utilize wasted energy and transform it into useful energy to power electronic devices. The potential applications of this technology are nearly endless, with the possibility of implementing the LMI-TENG into self-powered innovations such as, wearable sensors, wearable chargers, advanced health care devices and more. All things considered, it seems somewhat likely that technologies like the LMI-TANG are the future of energy production. In fact, IDTechEX predicted that triboelectric energy generators are going to be a several hundred-million dollar industry by the year 2028.
The team at Purdue are currently trying to patent the technology while looking for partners that can help develop it even further.