In terms of nanotechnology, it takes only very slight movements to trigger a reliable source of renewable energy. Two University of Wisconsin engineering researchers have created a plastic microbelt that vibrates in low-speed air flows, such as the flows caused by human respiration.
Aside from vibrating, the polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) used in the belt actually gathers electric charges in response to mechanical stress. The charge is strong enough to power a tiny electric device, such as those used in nanotechnology.
The creation of a device that could gather energy from natural body motions could dramatically change biomedical technology. If a consistent source of power was developed, devices such as pacemakers may never have to be replaced. Devices could also be created to measure blood glucose levels in patients with diabetes.
“The airflow of normal human respiration is typically below about two meters per second,” Wang said. “We calculated that if we could make this material thin enough, small vibrations could produce a microwatt of electrical energy that could be useful for sensors or other devices implanted in the face.”