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Who needs a battery? iPod and other gadgets could soon be 'charged by the human heart'

By Daniel Bates
Last updated at 4:23 PM on 29th March 2011

iPod could soon be 'charged by the human heart' | Mail Online

iPod owners need never run out of battery again after researchers developed a way to power them using the movement of the human body.

A team has created a tiny chip which uses natural motion to generate power for hand-held gadgets.

They hope that it could one day even use the human heart to power a range of devices including iPods and mobile phones - and do away with batteries entirely.

No more batteries? Scientists have created a tiny chip which uses natural motion to generate power for hand-held gadgets

The research is being hailed as a breakthrough and potentially has thousands of applications.

It will also mean an end to the days when you can no longer use your iPod or mobile because its battery has run out.

The scientists from the Georgia Institute of Technology made their discovery using zinc oxide nanowires which create electricity whenever they are manipulated.

In theory any body movement - even the pinch of a finger - could be used to generate power.

So far the team used the technology to transmit a radio signal and to power LCD displays and diodes, but they are convinced it can go much further.

Lead researcher Dr Zhong Lin Wang said: ‘This development represents a milestone toward producing portable electronics that can be powered by body movements without the use of batteries or electrical outlets.

‘Our nanogenerators are poised to change lives in the future. Their potential is only limited by one's imagination.

‘If we can sustain the rate of improvement, the nanogenerator may find a broad range of other applications that require more power.’

Dr Wang’s device is thousands of times more powerful than previous efforts at motion technology and represents the first time the technology has made it out of the lab.

It uses millions of nanowires which are are 500 times thinner than a single human hair.

In experiments five ‘nanogenerators’ created about the same amount of power as two AA batteries - 3 volts or 1 micro ampere.

Dr Wang said: ‘While a few volts may not seem like much, it has grown by leaps and bounds over previous versions of the nanogenerator.

‘Additional nanowires and more nanogenerators, stacked together, could produce enough energy for powering larger electronics, such as an iPod or charging a cell phone.’

The findings were presented at the National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society.