Most of the new power technology we learn about these days falls on one side or the other of the power-generation/power-storage divide. But a power cell developed by researcher Zhong Lin Wang at Georgia Tech both produces and stores power in the same tiny unit.
The self-charging cell uses a "piezoelectric membrane that drives lithium ions from one side of the cell to the other when the membrane is deformed by mechanical stress. The lithium ions driven through the polarized membrane by the piezoelectric potential are directly stored as chemical energy using an electrochemical process."
According to the researchers, the direct transfer of physical energy (such as a shoe hitting pavement) to chemical energy is as much as five times as efficient as separate generation and storage systems.
The self-charging power cell is only a device the size of a coin, and only provides enough power to operate a small calculator. But the potential for use in wearable computing (as well as the everpresent "military applications," given DARPA sponsorship of the research) make this technology an interesting one to watch for further development.
images: Gary Meek/GT Research News
written by Anna-Liisa, August 26, 2013
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