Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Georgia have published their study on self-charging power cell in a recent issue of Nano Letters, making the possibility of never having to plug your gadgets in for fresh juice a reality.

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Georgia have published their study on self-charging power cell in a recent issue of Nano Letters, making the possibility of never having to plug your gadgets in for fresh juice a reality.

Renewable energy technologies usually have two separate processes: first, energy generation using sources (such as solar, wind, and hydro), and secondly, energy storage (a battery for instance).  In the energy generation process, energy is converted to electricity from its original form.  Then in the second process, electricity is converted to chemical energy. 

However, researchers Xinyu Xue, Sihong Wang, Wenxi Guo, Yan Zhang, and Zhong Lin Wang have demonstrated that energy can be generated and stored in a single device, which can convert mechanical energy directly into chemical energy and, therefore, bypassing the intermediate step of electricity generation.

Using a normal lithium-ion coin battery, the team of researchers was able to achieve the “self-charging” aspect by replacing the divider between electrodes with a polyvinylidene diflouride film.  The film’s piezoelectric property allows for “charging” action inside the gap when a little bit of pressure is applied—thus, no outside voltage needed. 

To test their self-charging unit, the researchers attached the battery to the sole of their shoes, and found out that walking (applying pressure) generated enough compressive energy to charge the battery.

“This is a project that introduces a new approach in battery technology that is fundamentally new in science,” Zhong Lin Wang told Phys.org. “This has a general and broad application because it is a unit that not only harvests energy but also stores it. It does not need a constant wall jet DC source to charge the battery. It is mostly to be used for driving small, portable electronics.”

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