Converting vibrations into electricity

Compact chips could power electronics using natural vibrations.

Researchers are developing a chip that converts vibrations, from natural sources like gentle air movements or human walking, into electricity that can power sensors or wearable electronics.

Researchers in Japan are developing a chip that harvests energy from freely available natural motions, such as the vibrations of buildings, gentle air movements, or human walking, and converts it into electricity. This electricity can fully power small electronic devices, such as environmental sensors; it can also charge batteries in wearable gadgets. At the heart of the chip is a miniature polymer puck, which features a double layer of ions locked into position by a chemical reaction. The puck, sandwiched between two electrodes, generates a small current whenever tiny vibrations cyclically force the unit’s layers into frictional contact with each other, a process called triboelectric charging. The ‘ionic liquid polymer’ device is described in the journal Science and Technology of Advanced Materials.

For further information, contact:
Chikako Sano
Institute of Industrial Science
The University of Tokyo
E-mail: [email protected]

For information about STAM, contact:
Mikiko Tanifuji
Science and Technology of Advanced Materials
National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS)
E-mail: [email protected]

Published: 04 Mar 2019

Contact details:

STAM editorial office

National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS) 1-2-1 Sengen, Tsukuba-city Ibaraki 305-0047 JAPAN

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Academic discipline: 

Advanced Materials