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Now, battery-free sensors that harvest energy from spins, rolls, jiggles or shakes

August 14, 2011 - Washington

Scientists have developed battery-free sensors that can operate in anything that spins, rolls, jiggles or shakes, like car tires and clothing dryers.

This means tiny sensors in your automobile can now harvest constant power from road vibration instead of replacing batteries.

MicroGen Systems Inc., of Ithaca, and Cornell University's Cornell Nanoscale Facility, have collaborated to develop the battery device, which is a tiny sheet of a piezoelectric material that generates electricity when mounted on a shock-resistant base and it is flexed.

Vibration like a spinning automobile wheel causes the tiny flap to swing back and forth, generating current that charges an adjacent thin-film battery.

The prototype - about the size of a quarter - puts out up to 200 microwatts. As circuits become smaller and need less power, the device can shrink with them.

Several companies have already expressed interest in MicroGen's energy harvester technology.


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