Charging your smartphone while you walk is now possible thanks to nanotechnology

Nanotechnology has different applications in fields as wide-ranging as biomedicine and electronics. A group of scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology has recently developed a nanogenerator to charge smartphones while we walk.

When Richard Feynman gave his famous conference at Caltech on the futuristic possibilities of nanotechnology, no one imagined that the physicist was predicting a large part of what we have today thanks to this scientific discipline.

The arrival of innovative biosensors to diagnose diseases, the development of nanomaterials to improve our electronic devices or nanostructures to manufacture more efficient solar panels are just a few of the applications of nanotechnology.

The possibilities of nanotechnology are very broad. And they could even have an important impact on aspects of our daily lives, such as the simple act of charging our smartphones. Scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology imagined it might be possible to recharge their batteries while you walk or while the wind blows in your face as you ski.

Although it sounds like science-fiction, research seems to be ahead of its time. The researchers presented their initial results at a conference of the American Chemical Society, where they demonstrated the development of the first nanogenerators that could generate power to our mobile devices through the simple act of walking.

Nanotechnology tries to make our everyday lives easier

Thanks to their work on nanotechnology, they were able to create the first prototypes of systems that generate electricity while we walk through the city or play sports. Thanks to this research, in the the future we might be able to forget about the cumbersome chargers for our smartphones.

The idea on which the project is based aims to transform the mechanical energy that we use to move into electricity. While they were studying the design of miniaturised generators and the possibilities of the piezoelectric effect, Zhong Lin Wang’s team realised that these prototypes could easily charge mobile batteries. After months of work, they have produced nanogenerators that are capable of transforming the mechanical energy of a step into enough electricity to light up a thousand LED light bulbs.

Wang, in an interview for the American Chemical Society, explained that they had been able  “to invent a new energy technology that could change the world in which we live in the near future”. The nanotechnology system has been dubbed TENG and they are currently continuing to study the possibilities of its viability on the market.

Maybe in the future, thanks to this nanogenerator, we’ll be able to charge our phones while we walk. The possibilities offered by this nanotechnology demonstrate that this discipline can better help us in our daily lives, with aspects as basic and common as recharging a mobile phone.

Images | William Hook (Flickr), Brookhaven National Laboratory (Flickr)

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