Australian scientists at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology have made discoveries that could ultimately lead to laptops that charge when you type on them or phones that charge when you swipe their touchscreens. The trick is piezoelectricity. If you’ve ever used an electric cigarette lighter, you’ve seen this at work. Piezoelectric materials can turn mechanical energy (like pressure) directly into electricity. This technology has been around for over a hundred years, but typically the electricity is generated from fairly large pieces of piezoelectric materials, crystals usually. But now, scientists have quantified the capabilities of a piezoelectric film, which would have wider applications in mobile technology, like being slid underneath a keyboard or touchscreen.
Lead co-author of the research, Dr. Madhu Bhaskaran, as saying:
Our study focused on thin film coatings because we believe they hold the only practical possibility of integrating piezoelectrics into existing electronic technology.
The power of piezoelectrics could be integrated into running shoes to charge mobile phones, enable laptops to be powered through typing or even used to convert blood pressure into a power source for pacemakers – essentially creating an everlasting battery.
It may be a while away, but the application of this technology could be as revolutionary as wireless internet: wireless power.