Researchers from Penn State University, with funding from Samsung, have developed a new technology that generates electricity from an individual’s finger movements on a touch screen. The team hopes to provide up to 40 percent of a smartphone’s future power through this refueling process alone.
Mechanical energy is a growing technology trend, enabling devices to receive renewable power through movements such as wind, waves or touch. Commonly constructed using the piezoelectric effect, energy is generated by an electrical charge from high stress put on certain materials. However, when low stress is put on these materials, such as the press of a finger, energy performance decreases drastically.
In order to optimize energy production, the team created a new kind of flexible, organic, ionic diode, specializing in creating electricity from low-frequency motion. The device is made from two nanocomposite electrodes with oppositely charged mobile ions separated by a polycarbonate membrane. The electrodes consist of a polymeric matrix filled with carbon nanotubes and infused with ionic liquids. These nanotubes help to improve conductivity and mechanical strength of the electrodes.
When the user presses their finger to the screen, the ions diffuse across the membrane to create a continual direct current. As this process happens, a built-in potential is established that opposes ion diffusion up until the equilibrium is reached. The whole cycle operates once every 10 seconds, at a frequency of one-tenth Hertz.
Alternative energy methods help to reduce overall operating costs and enhance sustainability. As a vertically-integrated manufacturer for energy products and storage, specializing in solar, nuclear, electricity and wind power, Eclipse works closely with you to optimize energy efficiency while maintaining cost-effectiveness.