Scientists develop hybrid nanogenerator to power the Internet of Things

Washington , PTI:In a first, scientists have integrated a solar cell and a nanogenerator that can convert wind energy into electricity in a single device that may power the ‘Internet of Things’.

The ‘Internet of Things’ could make cities “smarter” by connecting an extensive network of tiny communications devices to make life more efficient, according to researchers from Georgia Institute of Technology in the US and National Centre for Nanoscience and Technology in Beijing. However, all these machines will require a lot of energy. Rather than adding to the global reliance on fossil fuels to power the network, researchers say they can be powered by a single device that harvests wind and solar energy.

According to reports, computer industry experts predict that tens of billions of gadgets will make up the Internet of Things within just five years. They will be in homes, syncing coffee makers to alarm clocks. They will also be in buildings, managing lights and air temperature, researchers said. However, they also require energy to run. Sustainably generating more energy in cities close to where the devices will be used is challenging. For example, cities do not have much space for towering wind turbines, they said.
For the first time, researchers have integrated two energy harvesting technologies in one – a silicon solar cell and a nanogenerator that can convert wind energy into electrical output. The solar cell component of the system delivers 8 milliWatts of power output. One milliWatt can light up 100 small light-emitting diodes (LEDs), researchers said. The wind harvesting component delivers up to 26 milliWatts, they said.
Together, under simulated sun and wind conditions, four devices on the roof of a model home could turn on the LEDs inside and power a temperature-humidity sensor. Installed in large numbers on real rooftops, the hybrid device could help enable smart cities, researchers said. The findings were published in the journal ACS Nano.