Energy is constantly around people in their many forms — in the sunlight, the heat in the room and even the movements of the people themselves. All this energy is usually just lost, but it can be used to provide power for mobile and wearable gadgets — from biometric sensors to smart watches. Researchers from the University of Oulu (Finland) has been found a mineral with the perovskite crystal structure whose properties allow it to draw energy simultaneously from many different sources.
Perovskites — a collection of minerals, many of which have shown themselves to be promising due to its ability to simultaneously harvest energy from one or two types. Some of the members of this family, for example, may be good for converting solar energy into electricity. The other, better cope with the extraction of energy from changes in temperature and pressure that can happen during the movement. Call them, respectively, pyroelectric and piezoelectric materials.
Sometimes, of course, one type of energy source is not enough. A certain form of energy may not be available always — during cloudy weather or when the person is not moving. Therefore, researchers have developed a device that can extract multiple forms of energy. But such devices require different materials that make them too bulky for use in compact devices.
In Applied Physics Letters published the results of a study conducted by Bai Yang (Yang Bai) and his colleagues from the University of Oulu. Researchers have studied a certain type of perovskite, which is called KBNNO, which is probably able to extract various forms of energy. Like all perovskites, KBNNO is a ferroelectric material filled with tiny electric dipoles are like little arrows in the compass in the magnet.
When such KBNNO ferroelectric material experiences temperature changes, it shifts the dipoles thus induced by the electric current. Electric charge is also accumulated in accordance with the direction of the dipole moment. Deformation of the material leads to the fact that certain portions attract or repel charge, which again leads to the production of a current.
Previously, researchers have studied the photovoltaic and General ferroelectric properties KBNNO, but this study was carried out at 200 degrees below freezing, and they were not focused on the material properties associated with temperature and pressure. In the new study, said Yang Bai, was first evaluated all of these material properties, which is manifested at room temperature.
Experiments have shown that, while KBNNO good for generating electrical energy from heat and pressure, it's not as good as other perovskites. Perhaps the most spectacular discovery by researchers was the ability to modify the composition KBNNO to improve its pyroelectric and piezoelectric properties. Thus, it is possible to "customize" all of these properties and use them as efficiently as possible. Yang Bai with his colleagues are exploring the possibility of improving material KBNNO with the use of sodium.
Yang Bai also said that next year he hopes to create a prototype device that extracts energy from a variety of sources. Its production process is simple, so the commercialization of this technology can be implemented within a few years after, the researchers will determine the best material.
According to Yang Bai, this technology could lead to faster development in the areas of Internet of things and smart cities where energy-consuming sensors and devices will be able to have constant access to power.
Such material is likely to be used in the batteries of the devices, increasing their efficiency and reducing the need for frequent charges. Someday, complements his narrative Yang Bai, the user does not need ever to put your gadget for charging. Battery compact devices in the modern sense might be left in the past.
But the fact that the theoretical way to do this without the batteries in the gadgets, does not mean neither the advent of products using this technology or that technology will ever be realized.
Will there ever wearable devices and even smartphones without batteries, which is enough for the energy that is in the space around, but is lost because there is no effective method of its extraction?
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