Washington: A mathematical framework that could one day form the basis of technologies that turn road vibrations, airport runway noise and other "junk" energy into useful power, has been developed by a University at Buffalo-led research team, helmed by an Indian-origin scientist.
The concept all begins with a granular system comprising a chain of equal-sized particles -- spheres, for instance -- that touch one another.
Under "normal" circumstances, when the particles are perfect spheres, exerting force on the first sphere in the chain causes energy to travel through the spheres as a compact bundle of energy between 3 to 5 particle diameters wide, at a rate set by Hertz``s Law.
But UB theoretical physicist Surajit Sen and his collaborators have discovered that by altering the shape of the surface area of each particle where it presses against the next, it is possible to change how the energy moves. While this finding is yet to be demonstrated experimentally, Sen said, "mathematically, it``s correct. We have proven it."
Sen believes the mathematical framework his team developed could be realized using electrical circuit systems as well.
One practical application he foresees from such technology: "We could have chips that take energy from road vibrations, runway noise from airports -- energy that we are not able to make use of very well -- and convert it into pulses, packets of electrical energy, that become useful power."
"You give me noise," Sen said, "I give you organized bundles."
The finding has been published in Physical Review E.