Just last week we were talking about a “perpetual” smartwatch that used body heat to stay up and running. Now, researchers from Empa, the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, are proud to announce that there’s a flexible, thin material capable of generating electricity when it’s under stress #todaymagic
By stretching it and compressing it, the material can generate electricity. This occurrence is the result of the piezoelectric effect; normally observed in music. A record’s grooves are read with the help of a needle that vibrates. But to generate actual sound waves from the movement, those are first converted in electrical impulses. The same conversion is achieved for this new material through exposure to hot, then cool, temperatures.
While the effect is nothing new, the team’s achievement certainly is. It’s the first time the the property was proven to exist in elastic materials. The implications could be even bigger, claim the researchers: “This material could probably even be used to obtain energy from the human body”.
The nature of the material – flexible and stretchy – makes it perfect for medical devices as well as clothing. It could work for pacemakers, wearable monitors but also smart clothes, generating electricity from a wearer’s movement. It’s certainly more convenient than a piece of sturdy, uncomfortable electronics.