Magic rub?

Updated: 2014-04-02 09:04

By Cheng Yingqi (China Daily)

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Magic rub?

[Photo by Ma Xuejing/China Daily]

It might sound as unlikely as the story of Aladdin's lamp, but scientists are eager to capture the energy generated by friction, Cheng Yingqi reports.

Does your cellphone battery die when you are expecting an important call? Or when you need your handset navigation most?

Imagine if you could recharge by giving a device a good rub, or shake, or even speaking into it.

Sometimes science fiction is just one step away from real science, and in this case, scientists are shortening the length of that step as you read this.

Scientists from the Beijing Institute of Nanoenergy and Nanosystems of the Chinese Academy of Sciences have been making breakthroughs in their research on the tribo-electric generator - a device that produces power from friction between two different materials. The power output? As much as 500 watts per square meter of friction material, and it has been constantly renewed.

"Tribo-electrification is a natural phenomena we have known about for thousands of years, but we had never been able to effectively use the power generated by friction," says Wang Zhonglin, director of the institute.

A charge transfer occurs whenever the opposing surfaces of two objects slide against each other.

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