In The Field

MRS: tiny power generators

It’s obvious – nanoscale devices need nano amounts of power. I’d just never thought of it before.


Zhong Wang pointed out this blindingly obvious point today. He’s also got a way of making little pockets of power by prodding an upstanding nanowire with an AFM tip and bending it back and forth. This does alsorts of things to the potential between the metal tip and the piezoelectric semiconductor zinc oxide nanotube, which ultimately causes a disharge of power. Piezoelectric materials, if you didn’t know, can generate a voltage in response to mechanical stress. Nanorobots inside the body could then use muscle power to create their own power, which is a cool concept.

Wang also coined a new phrase, only yesterday, he claimed. Nano-piezotronics. Wow. What does that mean? It means harnessing piezoelectric principles to make electronic devices – diodes, transitors etc.

And to go back to the tiny power generation, Wang reckons that developing his system could lead to shoes that power soldiers. Or at least that’s what the picture looked like. I think i misunderstood and what he means is the movement of a soldiers’ foot in a specially designed shoe could be used to generate power on the nanoscale.

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