PORTLAND, Ore. — The nascent field of piezoelectric energy harvesting got a boost recently when researchers reported the creation of nanogenerators on both silicon and polymer substrates.
The eventual aim is the design of energy harvesters that could power small electronic devices from environmental motions. A medical implant, for example, might be powered by the mechanical energy in flowing blood. Besides medical implants, the researchers are targeting applications of wireless sensors and portable electronic devices on "stretchable" substrates.
The researchers, led by professor Yong Shi at Stevens Institute of Technology (Hoboken, N.J.), claim their use of lead zirconate titanate (PZT) nanomaterials promises higher-output devices than competing devices using zinc oxide piezoelectrics. Thus far, their most successful energy harvesters have been able to generate 1.6 volts at 30 nanoamps, but the group plans to increase both the voltage and current output capabilities of future piezoelectric nanogenerators by adding more fibers and optimizing the architecture.
In the team's most recent device, PZT nanofibers measuring about 60 nanometers x 500 microns were aligned on a stretchable polymer substrate atop interdigitated electrodes made from fine platinum wires.
According to Stevens, the tiny nanogenerators could eventually power nanorobots that would inhabit a patient's bloodstream for extended periods, taking samples and transmitting diagnostic data to doctors for analysis.
Lets first congratulate the research community on this achievement. Application oh human body is part of the story, you can use these tiny generators in several other places.
@Feory scary thought haan :).
Just think, if people have wirelessly connected nanobots traveling through their bodies, transmitting and receiving data, then maybe a "virus" attack on the nanobots could produce symptoms like an actual virus in the human host!
I feel these robots will initially be tried out on patients who are significantly ill. No relatively healthy individual will readily agree to have implants in her person just to enable doctors make clinical measurements.
This effect should enable the industry and regulators determine whether the technology is safe.
The FDA, and for that matter the FCC, need to get into the act to address the safety and communications protocols for all this nano stuff in my body. Placing foreign objects inside humans may be beneficial as long as nanorobots can recognize each other in the blood stream and communicate coherently with the outside world, and among themselves.
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