Scientists from Korea have turned the main ingredient of calamine lotion into a tiny material that converts sound waves into electricity. The research could lead to panels that can charge a cell phone from a conversation or provide a boost of energy to the nation’s electrical grid generated by the noise during rush hour traffic.
“Just as speakers transform electric signals into sound, the opposite process — of turning sound into a source of electrical power — is possible,” said Young Jun Park and Sang-Woo Kim, the two corresponding authors of a new article in the journal Advanced Materials.
“Sound power can be used for various novel applications including mobile phones that can be charged during conversations and sound-insulating walls near highways that generate electricity from the sound of passing vehicles,” the co-authors added.
Harvesting energy from phone calls and passing cars is based on materials known as piezoelectrics. When bent, a piezoelectric material turns that mechanical energy into electricity.