Washington: Indian researchers have designed a new flexible, biodegradable nano-generator made with DNA that can harvest energy from everyday motion and turn it into electrical power.
The movements we often take for granted - such as walking and tapping on our keyboards - release energy that largely dissipates, unused, researchers said.
Several years ago, scientists figured out how to capture some of that energy and convert it into electricity so we might one day use it to power our mobile gadgetry, they said.
"Achieving this would not only untether us from wall outlets, but it would also reduce our demand on fossil-fuel-based power sources," according to researchers at the Organic Nano-Piezoelectric Device Laboratory (ONPDL), Department of Physics, Jadavpur University, Kolkata.
The first prototypes of these nanogenerators are currently being developed in laboratories around the world.
And now, scientists want to add another feature to this technology: biodegradability.
The researchers, who published their findings in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, built a nano-generator using a flexible, bio-compatible polymer film made out of polyvinylidene fluoride, or PVDF.
To improve the material's energy-harvesting ability, they added DNA, which has good electrical properties and is bio-compatible and biodegradable.
In experiments, the device was powered with gentle tapping, and it lit up 22 to 55 light-emitting diodes, said researchers.
Most of the work was performed at Jadavpur University, such as sample preparation, device fabrication and also device performance analysis.
"We collaborated with German team to get access to NEXAFS facility, because we don't have facility here in India," Dr Dipankar Mandal, Assistant Professor at ONPDL, told PTI.
"We have national facility for getting this access at INDUS synchrotron Centre here in India but the concerning beam line does not cover this energy (C-K edge) range," he said.
The German team provided the researchers the opportunity to measure for sample analysis in very conclusive way.
The device can help avoid the use of traditional batteries as power source for our everyday used portable electronic gadgets, researchers said.
"Our laboratory successfully demonstrated the capability to produce power from biodegradable nano-generator that could one day power our mobile devices such cell phones, tablets without a cord," said Mandal.
"It might also help to develop smart sensors for self-power health monitoring system, that means once day our initial health check up can be recorded by ourselves by such self-powered devices and that can be also monitored in wireless mode," he said.