Incorporated directly into a cell phone housing, the team's nanogenerator could harvest and convert vibration energy from a surface, such as the passenger seat of a moving vehicle, into power for the phone.
Xudong Wang, an assistant professor of materials science and engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said they believe this development could be a new solution for creating self-charged personal electronics.
Wang, his Ph.D. student Yanchao Mao and collaborators from Sun Yat-sen University in China, and the University of Minnesota Duluth described their device, a mesoporous piezoelectric nanogenerator.
The nanogenerator takes advantage of a common piezoelectric polymer material called polyvinylidene fluoride, or PVDF. Piezoelectric materials can generate electricity from a mechanical force; conversely, they also can generate a mechanical strain from an applied electrical field.
The nanogenerator could become an integrated part of an electronic device- for example, as its back panel or housing- and automatically harvest energy from ambient vibrations to power the device directly.
The study was published in the journal Advanced Energy Materials.