QMUL researchers team up with Nokia to bring sci-fi-like charging tech to the world

QMUL researchers team up with Nokia to bring sci-fi-like charging tech to the world
We recently learned about uBeam – the startup that uses piezoelectricity and ultrasound generators in order to wirelessly charge batteries across great distances. Well, looks like scientists from the Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) are looking to one-up uBeam's solution, by using a similar concept, only omitting the need for any chargers at all. Instead, the new tech gets its electrical charge from any sound that reaches the phone.

It is based on a concept first presented by Korean scientists, 4 years ago. It involves the use of nanorods, made by zinc oxide materials (a.k.a nanowire). When under physical stress, ZnO nanorods convert the energy from the motion into electrical energy. In the case of nanowires, physical stress can easily be applied by sound vibrations, since they are so sensitive. The challenge that remained was to pack a huge number of nanowires into a device in order to produce a charge big enough to power it.

Well, Nokia partnered up with the QMUL research team in order to build one such prototype device. The phone is the same size as a Nokia Lumia 925 and can charge itself, just by “hearing” waste sound from the street, music, or even speech. It generates 5 V, which is pretty much the power output we get from any regular phone charger.

We can't help but wonder, whether such a phone will be able to play music infinitely (philosoraptor would love to get his claws on such a handset)

via: Gismag, Pocket-lint

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11 Comments

1. LetsBeHonest

Posts: 1548; Member since: Jun 04, 2013

Awesome techh . It'll be awesome if this tech made to the markets. Truly innovative.

2. duartix

Posts: 311; Member since: Apr 01, 2014

No it won't play forever. Law of conservation of energy. No perpetual motion machines are allowed in this universe. At least not on a closed circuit. The most interesting thing about this is we might have found a new Renewable.

3. 14545

Posts: 1835; Member since: Nov 22, 2011

Exactly, However, tech like this would greatly extend the battery life while playing music due to the fact it will capture some sound waves that have been reflected off the surface. Just like recapturing KE in a hybrid system. It just won't be a 100% return to the system(since everything has efficiency losses. This does make me wonder if you would get a residual charging effect from any kind of motion. (walking, running, etc). I mean there is going to be jostling, bumping, etc. that will cause tiny motions within the wires and should lead to minor charging, right?

4. ArtSim98

Posts: 3535; Member since: Dec 21, 2012

But it could be on forever because of the sound that comes from around. Have to be in a noisy place though.

5. 14545

Posts: 1835; Member since: Nov 22, 2011

Actually, we don't know the current output of this technology, so it might not even be able to sustain the charge at idle. All we know from the article is that they were able to create a voltage source from these nanowires @ 5v. We would need to know the current output with relation to ambient noise(probably as a function of frequency, as lower frequency waves travel further). There isn't enough information to comment on this, really.

6. ArtSim98

Posts: 3535; Member since: Dec 21, 2012

Well yeah that's true.

7. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

But it is not a closed circuit. The Earth is filled with Energy loss. Tesla knew this and many others know this. The earth is filled with energy to be tapped, it is a matter of tapping into that energy. For this, it is simply activated by motion of any kind, from sound vibrations to vibrations you would produce walking. As a result my phone would charge almost all the time, always, especially at work. Meaning if i am charging i can play. Meaning 'forever' as long as it is moving by some outside force. A psuedo perpetual motion machine

8. StanleyG88

Posts: 240; Member since: Mar 15, 2012

Give me an electric car with these in the ceiling and my wifes talking will power us across the country with no recharge.

9. xpr3ss10n

Posts: 58; Member since: Dec 15, 2011

The last piece of this article is answered by simple Physics. It can never continue to play music infinitely. Friction exerted on the sound waves that move the nano wires would eventually cause the device to have a lower energy input that what it is outputting. It could however be perceived as infinite as you will likely not listen to music for 24hrs a day/365 days a year. A device that is perpetual in motion or energy is impossible because it violates the first and second law of thermodynamics.

10. StanleyG88

Posts: 240; Member since: Mar 15, 2012

It "could" be used to extend the like of another power source and make it much longer than normal.

11. SamDroid unregistered

Nice. When I want to charge my phone I'l just scream at it...:)

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