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June 4th, 2010
A tiny, nearly invisible nanowire can convert the energy of pulsing, flexing muscles inside a rat's body into electric current, researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology have shown. Their nano generator could someday lead to medical implants and sensors powered by heartbeats or breathing.
Zinc oxide nanowires show the piezoelectric effect, producing electricity when they are under mechanical stress. Georgia Tech professor of materials science and engineering Zhong Lin Wang and his group first demonstrated these nanowire generators in 2005. Since then they have made devices that can harness the energy of a running hamster and tapping fingers, and have also combined their piezoelectric nanowires with solar cells.
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