Environmental sensors for monitoring air quality, using energy from environmentally friendly, bio-photovoltaic batteries, arranged as wallpaper, are slowly becoming a reality.
Green algae can be used as ink in inkjet technology. To date, a group of scientists from Imperial College London, Cambridge and Central Saint Martins (UK) have found a way to integrate electric circuits with cyanobacteria on paper prints, creating a base plate. (panel) bio-photovoltaic, which is both a solar battery and a bio-battery.
Bio-photovoltaic panels. (Photo: Imperial College London).
This battery works on the principle that green algae bacteria still live after being printed on paper and can be photosynthesis, if you know how to exploit it will get a small amount of electricity, usually after about 100 hours. Panels made with the size of an iPad, can power electronic clocks or small LED bulbs, and open up the potential for another form of alternative energy – using glowing bacteria bio-BPV (microbial biophotoltaics) as green algae because of their photosynthetic function to generate electricity and take electrons from water.
More importantly, it is the potential for making electronic devices for medical or environmental applications. These may be sensors that monitor diabetic blood glucose levels, or environmental sensors – arranged as wallpaper to measure air quality at home. The big advantage of such devices is that they are designed for single use only, are easy to remove and do not harm the environment when leaving only biodegradable bacteria.
However, the production of such devices on an industrial scale is still limited because of the high cost, low power output and short product life cycle – a challenge for scientists.
Creating a super-elastic new material that can generate electricity when pulled or compressed
New materials that operate on the principle of piezoelectric effect can convert mechanical force into electrical charge and vice versa.
A group of researchers has developed a kind of rubber-like organic material with high elastic properties, which is interesting to note that when stretching or compressing it will generate electricity. New materials are thin and very flexible, but difficult to produce. The ability to convert mechanical force into electrical energy becomes a valuable feature that can be widely applied when production techniques achieve new advances.
Clothes using new materials can be used to charge the phone battery.
The piezoelectric effect has already appeared in recorders with the tip of the needle following the grooves on the disc to create mechanical vibrations. These vibrations are then converted into electrical impulses, then amplified into sound waves.
In this case, however, researchers from Empa, the Swiss Federal Office of Materials Science and Technology have created materials far beyond the idea of conventional applications.
First, they created a thin, elastic film that combined with nanoparticles and silicon. Then, to create the piezoelectric feature, they inserted an electric field into the material by heating it at high temperatures. Finally, the film is cooled to room temperature.
In the future, new materials can be enhanced with flexibility and organic properties that allow diverse applications to life. It can be used in medical devices, such as pacemakers, pressure sensors.
“This material can even be used to extract energy from the body, for example switching from the heartbeat,” said Opris, a representative of the research team. Not to mention, they can be integrated on clothes, or create interesting interactive surfaces.