Coming to grasp with the finite resources of this planet is one of the greatest incentives for finding alternative source of energy. As we become increasingly more dependent on energy for many of the products we use daily, researchers are looking to harness energy from many different sources. Wind, solar, wave, and geothermal are some of the renewable resources currently being used to compliment other energy producing technology.
A research paper from Disney Research by Karagozler, M. E., Poupyrev, I., Fedder, G. K., and Suzuki, Y., titled "Paper Generators: Harvesting Energy from Touching, Rubbing and Sliding," has introduced a new technology for producing energy, even though it is in infinitesimal amounts.
According to the research, paper generators are based on electrets, which are materials that hold a semi-permanent electric charge. By using PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene) sheets, or Teflon, and rubbing them together with ordinary paper, the opposite polarity charge starts to accumulate on the surface of both materials. The electret is formed because of the triboelectric effect – a contact electrification created when certain materials become electrically charged when they come in contact with another material.
Because, after all, it is still a Disney (News - Alert) organization, the researchers have given examples of applying this technology in products related to media. The example on the Disney Research site has the paper generator being used in conjunction with silver-coated polyester sheets or paper with printed conductive ink to produce an action of images by just tapping, rotating, touching, rubbing, and sliding on the prototypes they have created.
While the paper generator will not solve the energy dependence of our planet, this ingenious solution can introduce many products in the marketplace which in the past relied on batteries to make them work.
As the research moves forward this technology can be applied as a power source when e-paper eventually replaces traditional newspapers and magazines, interactive outdoor advertising, and many other applications that we haven't even thought of today.
Edited by Alisen Downey