Carbon nanotubes could let mobile devices use humans for power, just like The Matrix

Generating power from temperature differences is cheap but not yet practical for phones, iPods

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Most thermoelectric power-generating devices use Bismuth telluride, which is much more efficient than carbon nanotubes but can cost as much as $1,000 per kilogram. Power Felt, by comparison, could cost as little as $1 to the cost of a case on a smartphone.

The nanotube fabric used by the team stacks 72 layers of fabric to generate 140 nanowatts of power.

Other potential applications include wrapping it around a flashlight or other small device to power them during blackouts, or putting it in a coat to power personal electronics using the differing heat levels inside a coat and the cold outside according David Carroll, director of the Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials.

Real, practical use is still some time off, though. Hewitt goes along with the use cases described by Carroll, but says the ability to power even something as small as an iPod is still some time off, though it is "definitely within reach."

Read more of Kevin Fogarty's CoreIT blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Kevin on Twitter at @KevinFogarty. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

Photo Credit: 

Reuters

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