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Motion-sensitive "power skins" could generate power in space

Darren Murph

Just in case you ever plan on heading up into space to see your soon-to-be-painted logo on the Y*N*I*S satellite up close and personal, you might be interested in this. Devised by researchers at a Cambridge-based venture, dubbed IntAct Labs, the motion-sensitive "power skin" could be used and worn by humans and inanimate objects alike in order to generate electricity, and the concept was derived from our very ears. After investigating how biological organisms are such "ultra-efficient generators of power," the crew homed in on a tiny protein called prestin, which can "convert electrical voltage into motion or produce electrical charges in response to mechanical stresses," and is actually found in the outer hair cells of the human ear. Ideally, networks of these proteins would be linked in order to form skins that could coat people or objects and generate energy from something as simple as walking around or being in the path of wind gusts, and if everything pans out, a prestin-powered research station could be set up on Mars without a manmade perpetual power source in tow.

[Thanks, Sparky]

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