Conversational energy: sound used to power cell phonesMonday, September 13, 2010 15:14
Posted in category Uncategorized
Korean scientists have turned zinc oxide, the main ingredient in calamine lotion, into a material that can convert sound waves into electricity. Researchers Young Jun Park, Sang-Woo Kim, along with their colleagues sandwiched a field of nanowires between two electrodes. Using sound waves of 100db (a normal conversation is 60-70db), they were able to produce a current of 50 millivolts.
It's a small amount, and not close to enough power to power a cell phone, but it's a start. The average cell phone requires a few volts to operate.
Of course, any technology generated by this research wouldn't power a phone itself. Instead, it could use ambient noise and conversational power to charge the phone's battery. Further, researchers believe it could be used to add power to the nation's electrical grid during rush hour.
Anyone who has stood on an elevated BART platform in the San Francisco Bay Area, such as at the Castro Valley station, will know that there is ton of ambient noise in the form of traffic. This type of technology could actually turn a noisy area into a plus, to the grid, that is.
Young Jun Park and Sang-Woo Kim are the authors of the article which appears in the journal Advanced Materials. They said "Just as speakers transform electric signals into sound, the opposite process — of turning sound into a source of electrical power — is possible. Sound power can be used for various novel applications including mobile phones that can be charged during conversations and sound-insulating walls near highways that generate electricity from the sound of passing vehicles."
Researchers note that this technology is still just a proof of concept. They hope to generate a higher amount of power, from the same amount of sound, in the future.
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