A material is being developed which will allow gadgets to be powered by a photovoltaic-piezoelectric fibre, combining energy from a combination of both motion and light sources.
Researchers at the University of Bolton’s Institute for Materials Research have created a flexible piezoelectric fibre that can be woven into a fabric that creates energy as material is moved. To this they have also patented the incorporation of a photovoltaic material which will also allow light to generate further energy simultaneously.
"Essentially it is a hybrid of two materials, photovoltaic and piezoelectric. While photovoltaic generates energy purely from a light source, piezoelectric material can be any movement, which can potentially mean generating energy from wind, rain or sea," director of research at the Institue, Elias Siores, told TechEye. "This means that whether it is raining or the sun is shining you will still be able to power your devices."
"There are many potential applications, for example it would be possible to create a cover in a pub garden that is made with the material. In the summer it could power air conditioning or fans, while in the winter it could keep customers warm."
On a smaller scale the material could be used to power personal devices which are battery powered and can be used outdoors, with the potential for the fabric to be woven into a laptop case or an mp3 player cover.
Siores notes that photovoltaic material is able to provide 0.5 watts over a 10cm2 area with piezoelectric material adding roughly same amount, depending on the amount of light or motion, though this is still at development stage and is expected to increase through development.
"We believe that the main application will be micro-power regeneration for smaller devices, such as powering mp3 players or laptops. It would also be possible, for instance, to produce power via a mouse mat constructed from the material, with the mouse creating movement and any internal light source simultaneously adding to it. The possible applications for the device are only limited by your imagination."