A simple run could help you charge your iPod in future if new technology being developed is successful.
Every step you take can generate electricity. By packing 20,000 nanowires into three square centimeters, Georgia Tech scientists have developed the world's first gadget powered solely by piezoelectric materials.
A piezoelectric material when pushed or pulled creates a mild electrical charge.
Within three to five years piezoeleectric nanowires, woven into a cotton shirt or placed in a shoe heel, could charge a cell phone or laptop battery after even a short walk.
"This is a key step to designing technology that will be useful in the near future," Discovery News quoted Z.L. Wang, a professor at Georgia Tech and co-author of two new papers in Nature Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials, as saying.
Wang's group says piezoelectrics can generate voltages up to 1.26 volts, and can produce even higher voltages.
The team used plentiful and easy-to-manipulate zinc oxide nanowires to come up with their nanogenerator.
An individual zinc oxide nanowire is invisible to the human eye, measuring anywhere between 50 and 200 nanometers across and about five microns in length.
Twenty thousand nanowires, placed side-by-side and end-to-end, cover three square centimeters, with two thin electrodes hanging off either end.
The arrangement maximizes the electricity the piezoelectric nanowires can generate.
The wires work in sync, amplifying the electrical charge to record levels as the single layer is pushed back and forth with the slightest nudge.
Pushing the arranged nanowires harder or faster would enhance the power output up to 30 times without damaging the device.
And if gallium nitride replaced the cheap zinc oxide nanowires the power output could increase almost 10 times.
Piezoelectric-powered devices could also help detect fires and collect weather data in areas that are not within the reach of traditional power grids.