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Charging With A Finger Swipe May Be Possible In Near Future

First Posted: Dec 13, 2016 03:13 AM EST
IFA 2015 Consumer Electronics And Appliances Trade Fair
A visitor looks at an Xperia Z5 smartphone at the Sony stand at the 2015 IFA consumer electronics and appliances trade fair
(Photo : Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Anyone who has ever had a smartphone knows just how annoying it is to run out of batteries in the middle of the day. Sure, powerbanks can give the phone that extra boost, but people have to admit, reliable ones can get pretty heavy.

It is a good thing that scientists are looking for better ways to keep phones alive for more than their usual battery life span, and they are looking into charging smartphones with a swipe of a finger, thanks to a low-cost, film-like device that can help harvest energy from humans.

The device, which, according to NDTV, is called a nanogenerator, already successfully managed to operate an LCD touch screen, a bank of LED lights, and even a flexible keyboard, thanks to a simple touching or pressing motion that did not need the help of a battery. Nelson Sepulveda, who is an associated professor at the Michigan State University, noted that this is a path toward wearable devices powered by human motion. He shared, "What I foresee, relatively soon, is the capability of not having to charge your cell phone for an entire week, for example, because that energy will be produced by your movement."

Tech2 explained that the process starts with a silicone wafer that is fabricated with layers of environmentally friendly substances -- silver, polyimide and polypropylene ferroelectret -- to help charge particles. The study explained that electrical energy is then created when the device is compressed by mechanical energy (human motion).

Because it is lightweight, flexible, biocompatible, scalable and low-cost, it can make a great alternative method in mechanical energy harvesting for electronics like wireless headsets, cellphones and other touch-screen devices.

The technology, which is already powerful as it is, can also become more powerful when folded. "Each time you fold it you are increasing exponentially the amount of voltage you are creating," Sepulveda explained. "You can start with a large device, but when you fold it once, and again, and again, it's now much smaller and has more energy."

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