Rubber sheets are new power source

Scientists at Princeton University have emerged from their smoke filled labs with power-generating rubber sheets which they think could harness natural body movements such as breathing and walking to power pacemakers, mobile phones and other electronic gear.

The material is composed of ceramic nanoribbons embedded onto silicone rubber sheets, generates electricity when flexed and is highly efficient at converting mechanical energy to electrical energy.

Shoes made of the stuff might harvest the pounding of walking and running to power mobile electrical devices.

If you place it against the lungs, it would be possible to power a pacemaker using breathing motions.

In an article with the catchy title “Piezoelectric Ribbons Printed onto Rubber for Flexible Energy Conversion,” which was was published in Nano Letters, a journal of the American Chemical Society, Michael McAlpine, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, at Princeton, who led the project says that the super-thin material that generates electricity when flexed.

The technology could provide a source of power for mobile and medical devices.

His team is the first to successfully combine silicone and nanoribbons of lead zirconate titanate (PZT), a ceramic material that is piezoelectric.

This means it generates an electrical voltage when pressure is applied to it. PZT can convert 80 per cent of the mechanical energy applied to it into electrical energy.

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