Ultrathin Foil Turns Motion into Energy | AIChE

Ultrathin Foil Turns Motion into Energy


A new energy-harvesting device can produce current from human motion. The device, which uses strain to generate a current, opens up the possibility of clothing that can power devices, or textile-embedded sensors that could measure motion in three dimensions.

“Imagine a Fitbit that told you not only how many steps you took, but the efficiency of your body motion,” says Cary Pint, a nanomaterials researcher and professor at Vanderbilt Univ. Previous attempts at this sort of motion-powered energy have worked above 10 Hz, Pint says, but that does not work for harvesting energy from the average human. While Usain Bolt, the fastest sprinter alive, can be thought of as a machine that works at 5 Hz, the average person works well below that.

Well below 5 Hz is exactly where the new device thrives. Pint and his colleagues were inspired by their earlier work on the effects of strain on batteries. Applying strain to electrodes can slightly change the voltage at which a battery works. The effect is not enough to be significant for battery technology, but it does make a difference when trying to develop a motion...

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