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Researchers harness static electricity from your twitchiness to charge batteries

Steve Dent, @stevetdent
November 20, 2012
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If you're the fidgety type, new research from Georga Tech may one day turn your nervous energy into a fully charged cellphone. The scientists, who previously borrowed piezoelectric power from walking, created static electricity generated from movement between plastic and metal, similar to the way a balloon can be electrified by rubbing it on your hair. The charging area was greatly increased by patterning the surfaces on a nanoscale level, allowing this "tribolectric effect" to be multiplied and converting up to 15 percent of the mechanical energy into electricity (so far). About 50 common materials could be paired to create the material, and a 2 x 2-inch patch could conceivably be worn as an armband and used to charge up a cellphone battery. So far the tech works fine in the lab, but it remains to be seen if real world vibrations can generate enough energy to make it practical. While you're waiting, though, feel free to stock up on coffee.

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