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Brief Published: 19 Aug 2014

Sonic Charging

Common noises might soon charge smartphone batteries

Mobile devices may soon be powered by being exposed to everyday noise from traffic and even speech.

In collaboration with Finnish tech firm Nokia, scientists from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) have developed a nanogenerator the size of a Nokia Lumia 925, which converts sound vibrations into enough energy to power a smartphone.

The device uses a sheet of zinc oxide nanorods – which produce voltage when squashed or stretched – arranged like miniscule brush bristles. These harvest energy from sound vibrations and transfer the voltage to electrical contact sheets.

Joe Briscoe from the QMUL research team commented: "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."

Steve Dunn, one of the research leaders, hinted that he wants the technology to be applied to larger devices – such as in cars, where it could lessen the load on alternators. In public transport, the technology could be used to power display screens without batteries.

For more on intelligent energy solutions, see Eco Energy: Smarter Savers.