Our Future Smartphones Can Be Charged With Electricity Produced Out Of Thin Air

Aadhya Khatri - Feb 19, 2020


Our Future Smartphones Can Be Charged With Electricity Produced Out Of Thin Air

If we connect several of these devices, we can have enough electricity to power a smartphone even in dry areas like a desert

This method to generate electricity out of the air is made possible thanks to a type of bacteria that is capable of incredible things.

The sediment organism was discovered around three decades ago on the shore of the Potomac River. One of its abilities is to generate magnetite without oxygen. And recently, scientists found out that they can make electricity too.

According to Jun Yao, an engineer from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, with inspiration from the bacteria, they are able to generate electricity out of thin air, 24/7.

This might sound like a wild statement to make but the scientist ‘s new study has indeed outlined a way we can make a generator that requires nothing but air to create energy, with the electrically conductive protein nanowires from the Geobacter, the bacteria we talked about earlier.

The Air-gen, the name of the generator, has a layer of protein nanowires with a thickness of just 7 micrometers, sandwiched between two electrodes, but is still exposed to the air.

electricity air gen
The Air-gen has a layer of protein nanowires with a thickness of just 7 micrometers, sandwiched between two electrodes

The nanofilm will then absorb water vapor to generate an electrical current between two electrodes.

This creation is mostly accidental when Yao notices the device he is experimenting with can generate electricity all by itself.

The team’s Air-gen can generate a voltage of around 0.5 volts with 17 microamperes per square centimeter. That is still a little amount of electricity but if we connect several devices, we can have enough power for a smartphone even in dry areas like a desert.

However, there is an obstacle on the way to commercialize this invention, which is the limited amount of nanowire the bacteria can produce.

However, there is a possible solution. Microbiologist Derek Lovley suggested that we could genetically engineer other bacteria to generate the substance we want at a large scale. One of the possible candidates is E.Coli.

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