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Energy-Harvesting Rubber Sheets Could Power Pacemakers, Mobile Phones

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silicone rubber

This piece of silicone rubber developed at Princeton University is imprinted with super-thin material that generates electricity when flexed. The technology could provide a source of power for mobile and medical devices.

Credit: Frank Wojciechowski / Princeton University

Princeton University researchers have developed power-generating rubber films that can harness natural body movements such as breathing and walking to power electronic devices such as pacemakers and mobile phones. The material generates electricity when flexed and is very efficient at converting mechanical energy into electrical energy.

The Princeton team says they are the first to successfully combine silicone and lead zirconate titanate (PZT), which is a ceramic material that generates an electrical voltage when pressure is applied to it. "PZT is 100 times more efficient than quartz, another piezoelectric material," says Princeton professor Michael McAlpine.

Electronic devices built with the rubber film could be implanted into a person's body to continuously power medical devices and the body would not reject them, McAlpine says. The material also could be used to create microsurgical devices, he says.

From Princeton Engineering News
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