Nanogenerators Power LCD Displays, Radios

March 30, 2011

An engineer at Georgia Institute of Technology will demonstrate how nanogenerators can be used to power an iPod or charge a cell phone cell phone at this week’s meeting of the American Chemical Society .

            Zhong Lin Wang, a Regent’s professor at Georgia Tech, will show how the nanogenerators scavenge energy from subtle body motions and then provide small amounts of usable electrical current. As explained in Design News in 2009 , Wang’s nanogenerators are made from millions of tiny zinc oxide wires encapsulated in a flexible polymer substrate that forms a sheet. When the sheet bends, it uses a piezoelectric effect to produce miniscule amounts of current.

In 2009, Wang grabbed headlines when he fitted a hamster with the nanogenerator sheets, scavenging about 0.5 nA of current from the hamster’s motions.

            At the time, Wang told Design News that some electronic products might one day “be run exclusively by his nanogenerators, although it could take thousands or even millions of the nano-devices” to run a cell phone.

            This week, he will reportedly prove that. Time’s Techland website quotes Wang as saying, “Additional nanowires and more nanogenerators, stacked together, could produce enough energy for powering larger electronics, such as an iPod or charging a cell phone.”  

            Wang and his team from Georgia Tech will present their findings at the American Chemical Society meeting, where they will demonstrate real-world applications, such as powering LCD displays and transmitting radio signals.


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