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New research harnesses the power of movement

Date:
April 25, 2022
Source:
Northumbria University
Summary:
Harvesting energy from the day-to-day movements of the human body and turning it into useful electrical energy, is the focus of a new piece of research. Academics have developed a unique design for sensors capable of using human movements -- such as bending, twisting and stretching -- to power wearable technology devices including smart watches and fitness trackers.
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Harvesting energy from the day-to-day movements of the human body and turning it into useful electrical energy, is the focus of a new piece of research involving a Northumbria University Professor.

Academics from Northwestern Polytechnical University in China, supported by Professor Richard Fu from Northumbria, have developed a unique design for sensors capable of using human movements -- such as bending, twisting and stretching -- to power wearable technology devices including smart watches and fitness trackers.

Self-powered pressure sensors are one of the key components used in these smart electronic devices which are growing in popularity today. The sensors can operate without the need for external power supplies.

Detecting health conditions and measuring performance in sport are among the potential uses for these types of sensors. As a result, they are the focus of extensive research and development, but remain challenging to produce with the performance sensing, flexibility, and sufficient level of power needed for wearable technology.

A new research paper published in the scientific journal, Advanced Science, describes how the team led by Professor Weizheng Yuan, Professor Honglong Chang and Associate Professor Kai Tao from Northwestern Polytechnical University (NPU), has worked with Professor Fu to develop a solution.

Their novel method involves using sophisticated materials with pre-patterned pyramid shapes to create friction against the silicone polymer known as polydimethylsiloxane or PDMS. This friction generates a self-powering effect, or triboelectricity, which can significantly enhance the energy available to power a wearable device.

Professor Tao from NPU explained: "This results in a self-powered tactile sensor with wide environmental tolerance and excellent sensing performance, and it can detect subtle pressure changes by measuring the variations of triboelectric output signal without an external power supply. The sensor design has been tested an is capable of controlling electrical appliances and robotic hands by simulating human finger gestures, confirming its potential for use in wearable technology."

Professor Fu added: "This self-powered sensor based on hydrogels has a simple fabrication process, but with a superb flexibility, good transparency, fast response and high stability."


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Materials provided by Northumbria University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Kai Tao, Zhensheng Chen, Jiahao Yu, Haozhe Zeng, Jin Wu, Zixuan Wu, Qingyan Jia, Peng Li, Yongqing Fu, Honglong Chang, Weizheng Yuan. Ultra‐Sensitive, Deformable, and Transparent Triboelectric Tactile Sensor Based on Micro‐Pyramid Patterned Ionic Hydrogel for Interactive Human–Machine Interfaces. Advanced Science, 2022; 9 (10): 2104168 DOI: 10.1002/advs.202104168

Cite This Page:

Northumbria University. "New research harnesses the power of movement." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 April 2022. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/04/220425135927.htm>.
Northumbria University. (2022, April 25). New research harnesses the power of movement. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 21, 2024 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/04/220425135927.htm
Northumbria University. "New research harnesses the power of movement." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/04/220425135927.htm (accessed February 21, 2024).

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