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Shake, rattle, roll -- and make energy
by Staff Writers
Ithaca, N.Y. (UPI) Aug 9, 2011

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only

Sensors vital for the operation of modern automobiles could harvest power from road vibration instead of needing external power sources, U.S. researchers say.

Cornell University scientists say they've developed sensors that can operate in anything that spins, rolls, jiggles or shakes, from car tires to clothing dryers.

Working with MicroGen Systems Inc., of Ithaca, N.Y., the researchers created a tiny sheet of a piezoelectric material that generates electricity when mounted on a shock-resistant base and is flexed.

Vibration, such as from a spinning automobile wheel, causes the tiny flap to swing back and forth, generating current that charges an adjacent thin-film battery.

The prototype -- about the size of a quarter -- puts out up to 200 microwatts. As circuits become smaller and need less power, the device, which can power sensors and instruments in various uses, can shrink with them, researchers said.

Several companies have already expressed interest in this new energy harvester technology, a Cornell release said Tuesday.

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