pic via Georgia Institute of Technology
Georgia Institute of Technology's Dr Zhong Lin Wang has announced the first commercially viable nanogenerator at the 241st National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society. After a long period of research Zhong Li Wang's team have boosted the output of the generator to the point of being able to power LCDs, LEDs, and laser diodes. Power comes from the bending and straining of Zinc Oxide (ZnO) nanowires. The pizoelectric nanowires are 1/500th the width of a human hair. 5 layers of these nanowire bundled together, on a 1 square cm flexible polymer chip, can produce 3V at 1mA when actuated.
Zhong Li Wang talking of places the generator may be employed, "personal electronics devices powered by footsteps activating nanogenerators inside the sole of a shoe; implanted insulin pumps powered by a heart beat; and environmental sensors powered by nanogenerators flapping in the breeze."
The team's goal is to increase the power output, and hoping for industry adoption within 3 to 5 years. The US Military, Department of Heath, National Institutes of Health, and National Science Foundation are funding the project. I hope to use the tech much sooner.