UK Scientists Charge Phone Using Sound

Researchers working at the Queen Mary University of London have devised a unique and ingenious method of charging a smartphone, anytime and anywhere, using only the sounds we hear around us every day.

The smartphone they have built uses a scientific principle known as the piezoelectric effect, and takes the sound in the atmosphere around it and converts it into electrical energy using minute nanogenerators, made by mixing zinc oxide with certain chemicals.

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The zinc mixture was then coated all over the device, and after a while, tiny ‘nanorods’ grew from the compound, creating a ‘skin’ of tiny generators all over the phone. When these generators come into contact with ambient sound, they bend under the pressure, creating a static charge, which, when combined from the phone’s entire surface, creates a current of 5 volts, which charges the phone.

These tiny hair-like rods bend and flex when exposed to sound, creating electricity. They can be grown on smartphones to help increase battery life. Image credit: Steve Dunn, Queen Mary, University of London

Simply talking on the phone creates a current, meaning that as it is used the phone charges. Other ambient sounds, such as traffic or crowds of people in town, may also contribute to the effect.

Dr. Joe Briscoe from the Queen Mary University of London seemed hopeful about the further spplications of the zinc coating, saying:

“Being able to keep mobile devices working for longer, or do away with batteries completely by tapping into the stray energy that is all around us is an exciting concept. This collaboration was an excellent opportunity to develop alternative device designs using cheap and scalable methods. We hope that we have brought this technology closer to viability.”

In short, once this technology is available, smartphones everywhere could benefit from this simple and cheap effect. It’s not know if newer, metal clad smartphones, such as the Samsung Galaxy Alpha, would either benefit from or inhibit the effect, but as the technology further develops this may be a standard thing across the smartphone industry.

Source: Pocket Lint