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National Science Foundation

NSF 07-43, Benchmarks of NSF Innovation

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Medical devices implanted in the human body are normally battery operated. But, a promising new approach may enable humans to tap into the body's own energy via a "nanogenerator." Developed by NSF-funded researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology, nanogenerators convert mechanical energy from body movement, muscle stretching or water flow into electrical energy.

This technique could open up tremendous possibilities for self-powered, implantable biomedical devices, as well as wireless sensors, portable electronics and other applications. The nanogenerators produce electricity by bending and then releasing zinc oxide nanowires. By creating interconnected groups of arrays containing millions of wires, researchers can potentially produce enough current to power nanoscale devices, eliminating the need for bulky power sources.

Output voltage (vertical scale) of a nanowire array. Researchers are using nano-wire arrays to create nanogenerators to power implantable medical devices.

Credit: Z. L. Wang, Georgia Tech.

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