Bend it, twist it, generate electricity with it — these nanogenerators may make energy easy

nanogenerator electricity hand wallpaper
Mama said don’t jump on the bed — but what if that bed is made out of shape-adaptive triboelectric nanogenerators? What if our horseplay could power the house? Then could we jump on it?

Shape adaptive triboelectric nanogenerators (saTENGs) are the newest outcrop of Zhong Lin Wang’s TENG technology, which he developed four years ago. TENGs are tiny generators that create static electricity from the friction of two different materials with different affinities for electrons. Electron-hungry materials, such as silicon, take electrons from more charitable materials, such as glass or nylon, as IEEE Spectrum points out.

The issue is, when those materials rub against each other for long enough, they tend to fall apart. Wang’s innovative solution was to corrugate the material’s surfaces so that pressure alone would induce the friction necessary to generate electricity.

For the past four years, Wang and his team have been developing TENG for new uses. At the beginning of their research, they were unable to harness this frictional electricity in a soft and bendable material. Well, now they say they can.

“The key difference of this work from our previous work is using a conductive liquid instead of a conductive solid as part of the TENG,” Wang told IEEE Spectrum. “As a result, the entire structure is fully flexible, adaptable, and can fit to any geometrical surface.”

In an effort to show how powerful saTENG’s energy generation is, Wang and his team placed the material on a subject’s shoe and had the subject walk around. Each step produced enough energy to power 80 small LED lights as the subject walked, reports IEEE Spectrum.

But saTENG’s aren’t just for keeping rooms brighter. Wang told IEEE Spectrum he and his team are researching the medical and healthcare utility of a material that can generate energy from something as subtle as a footstep, handshake, or head scratch.

Emerging Tech

With this robotic garage, retrieving your car is like using a vending machine

Remembering where we parked our cars can be a real pain. But what if our cars came to find us, rather than the other way around? A new automated robot parking valet system aims to help.
Emerging Tech

The best 3D printers of 2018

On the hunt for a new 3D printer? We've got your back. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned veteran, this list of the best 3D printers has what you're looking for.

5G’s arrival is transforming tech. Here’s everything you need to know to keep up

It has been years in the making, but 5G is finally becoming a reality. While 5G coverage is still extremely limited, expect to see it expand in 2019. Not sure what 5G even is? Here's everything you need to know.

New rumors say the Pixelbook 2 could show up at CES 2019

What will the Pixelbook 2 be like? Google hasn't announced it, but thanks to rumors and leaks, we think we have a pretty good idea of what the potential new flagship Chromebook will be like.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Twilight Zone’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.

Best Products of 2018

Our reception desk has so many brown boxes stacked up, it looks like a loading dock. We’re on a first-name basis with the UPS guy. We get new dishwashers more frequently than most people get new shoes. What we’re trying to say is: We…
Emerging Tech

A lidar-equipped truck knows exactly how much de-icer to apply on roads

Lidar is best known as the laser-based technology that helps self-driving cars sense their surroundings. But the city of Knoxville has another, more seasonal use for it: De-icing roads.
Emerging Tech

This unusual nature-inspired robot is equally at home on land or in the water

This intriguing, nature-inspired robot may look unusual, but it's impressively capable of moving on both land and water without problem. Heck, it can even travel on ice if necessary.
Emerging Tech

This cryptocurrency wallet for kids isn’t nearly as stupid as it sounds

So you’ve taught your 6-year-old child to read, write, and play nice with others. What’s next? Give them a base understanding of cryptocurrency, of course. This Kickstarter aims to help.
Emerging Tech

Light, speed: Lighting kit for DJI Mavic 2 lets you fly and film in the dark

Lume Cube, maker of small battery-powered LED lights for mobile photography, has announced a new lighting kit built specifically for the DJI Mavic 2 -- the first of its kind. Already our favorite drone, this makes the Mavic 2 even better.
Emerging Tech

Prepare for liftoff: Here are all the important upcoming SpaceX rocket launches

From ISS resupply missions to a host of communication and scientific satellite launches, SpaceX has a busy year ahead. Here's a rundown of some of the company's most important missions slated for the next year.
Emerging Tech

Virgin Galactic’s latest test flight takes it to the edge of space

Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic has successfully carried out its fourth powered flight in Mojave, California. It was the company's most ambitious test flight yet -- and bodes well for the future.
Emerging Tech

We’re going to the Red Planet! All the past, present, and future missions to Mars

SpaceX isn't the only organization pining to visit the Red Planet. Here's a detailed list of all operational and planned missions to Mars, along with explanations of their objectives, spacecraft details, and mission proposals.
Emerging Tech

There’s a giant EMP blaster in New Mexico. Don’t worry, it’s here to protect us

An electromagnetic pulse has the potential to disable virtually all electronics within a large area. To help protect against such a threat is a new, friendly EMP emitter. Here's how it works.