Touch-screens are becoming ever-so-popular; people everywhere are tapping away on their smart phones, laptops, and iPads — and tapping frequently. So what if there were a way to capture the energy in all that tapping and use it to power the touch-screen device? Well researchers at Samsung and Sungkyunkwan are working on doing just that.
The researchers have combined flexible transparent electrodes with an energy-scavenging material. The resulting film-like substance can be printed over large areas and can potentially help power portable electronics.
The touch-screen display sensors that are commonly used today are rigid and power-consuming. Samsung’s team is trying to replace these with a flexible, self-powering sensor system. “The flexibility and rollability of the nano-generators gives us unique application areas such as wireless power sources for future foldable, stretchable, and wearable electronics systems,” says Sang-Woo Kim, professor of materials science and engineering at Sungkyunkwan University. Kim led the research with Jae-Young Choi, a researcher at Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology.
According to Technology Review, the power-generating touch screens are at least five years from the market. However some prototypes that have already been made can produce about a microwatt per square centimeter. Kim says this is enough for a self-powered touch sensor and “indicates we can realize self-powered flexible portable devices without any help of additional power sources such as batteries in the near future.”