We are always looking to highlight news of new developments in the technology sector and when we came across this innovative work, we wanted to share it. Over the last few months, Queen Mary University in London have been developing some never-before-seen technology in collaboration with Nokia. The smartphone prototype they have produced charges its own battery using vibrations from ambient sound. This includes noise such as busy train stations, crowds at football matches and even a person shouting.
The general idea of using sound to create electricity has been around for longer than 20 years; however, until now, nobody has identified a way to harness it for such a practical use. The research was inspired by findings that music, such as rock and pop, improved the performance of solar cells. It was discovered that music improves the movement of material inside a solar cell, resulting in performance improvements of up to 40%.
The prototype created by Nokia and QMUL uses zinc oxide to convert sound vibrations into electricity. When the zinc oxide nanorods are manipulated, a voltage is created. The device, which is called a nanogenerator, allows this voltage to be used to power a mobile phone. Consider shouting at your phone to tell it to charge and it actually does so.
The technology is still at an early stage. Currently, the device can only collect a small amount of energy; the next step is to create a device that can collect enough energy to keep a phone charged constantly. So, whilst it is still some way away before the technology becomes commonplace across the smartphone industry, if it progresses as planned, the possibilities are endless – as well as your phone’s battery life. One day this technology could be used in anything from phones to TVs or even cars.
Not only does this potentially represent a huge milestone moment for mobile technology, but it is also extremely helpful in supporting efforts to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels to produce power.
This story is yet another demonstration of the UK technology sector being an exciting space right now. Soumac are proud to be working with companies involved at the cutting edge of the industry, helping them with prototypes and turning new-technology into commercial reality.
Image taken from QMUL