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Typing seen as power source alternative

Posted: 01 Jul 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:piezoelectric? thin films? portable devices?

Australian researchers are studying whether typing could be used as an alternative power source for recharging electronic equipment. Lead co-author Madhu Bhaskaran from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) said that their study had, for the first time, precisely measured the electrical voltage and current that could be generated by piezoelectric thin films. If their findings are to be found viable, then chargers of electronic devices could be used for emergencies only.

Reportedly the voltage output of up to 40mV and current transients up to 200pA, compare to published results for nanowire generators of 30mV and 100pA, which were shown to be suitable for powering nanosensors.

The original motivation for the work was to see whether the blood pressure and the pulse could be used to power implanted devices such as pacemakers.

There is a lot of interest for recharging electronic portable devices, such as cellphones, iPads and iPhones. Bhaskaran said, "Essentially any electronic portable device that uses a battery is something which we will be looking at as a potential application. And currently the power levels that we are able to generate are around ten times less than what is required, so that's the next step; to amplify the power available," she said in a television interview.

According to Bhaskaran, scaling up the output of thin-film piezoelectrics would take two or three years. After that commercialization should be "fairly quick" because thin-film piezoelectrics are a good fit with modern electronic devices, which already use thin films for touchscreens. The RMIT results have been published in the science journal, Advanced Functional Materials.

"Our study focused on thin film coatings because we believe they hold the only practical possibility of integrating piezoelectrics into existing electronic technology," said Bhaskaran.

- Peter Clarke
??EE Times

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