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Multi-Energy: Scientists Discover Material That Can Harness Electricity From Different Sources Simultaneously

Feb 08, 2017 11:31 AM EST

The world is filled with many sustainable forms of energy: sunlight, heat and constant motion are some of them. Harnessing the power from these different sources produce electricity that can power your gadgets.

According to a report from Phys Org, a team of researchers from the University of Oulu in Finland discovered that a type of perovskite called KBNNO can actually harness different forms energy at the same time. KBNNO is a ferroelectric material, which is typically filled with tiny electric dipoles that are very similar to tiny compass needles in a magnet.

Temperature changes and deformation on the material can create an electric current. While the KBNNO isn't particularly good at generating electricity from heat and pressure, the study found out that its composition can actually be tweaked to be better.

"It is possible that all these properties can be tuned to a maximum point," one of the study researchers Yang Bai explained. "This will push the development of the Internet of Things and smart cities, where power-consuming sensors and devices can be energy sustainable."

With this kind of material, the team is hoping to develop a multi-energy-harvesting device that can supplement the batteries of different gadgets. Because of its nature, it's expected to be much more energy efficient than existing devices. The need to charge the gadgets would also be less frequent.

They are already working on a prototype and they are hoping to complete it within the next year. If successful, commercialization could come in a few years.

There have been other projects that developed devices that harvest energy from multiple sources, but they use a number of different materials, adding bulk and cost to the device. A single material is a breakthrough as it could keep the device streamlined and efficient.

This study was published in journal Applied Physics Letters.

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