Powering Billions of Sensors the Environmentally Sustainable Way

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A number of applications need internet connectivity between a number if sensors. And, the number runs into billions. This propels thinkers to develop alternative that go beyond batteries for power generation. Furthermore, since these are set to lay the foundation of interconnected healthcare, these are highly significant for future.

However, for environmental protection, the alternatives should not only be flexible and small, but also sustainable on the environmental front. And, this is a feat that is now present in the list of achievements of researchers from the Osaka University.

About the Study

Study by Osaka researchers reveals that difference in temperature leads to generation of electricity, which is usable in small devices. Stemming from the thermoelectric effect, the performance of this is yet to reach its real potential.

Here, it is quite pertinent to note that these generators (thermoelectric) are reliable as well as stable. Besides, these are self-sustaining. And, these numerous advantages give it an edge over vibrational and solar power. However, application of displays (flexible and thin) is still in a nascent stage.

Additionally, it is important to note that a number of researchers are directing efforts towards improving devices. And, this involves working with thermoelectric materials. As per Tohru Suhagra, attempts towards understanding electrical contact are significant. And, the reason for this, he states, is that contact resistance dictates level of efficiency.

To make bismuth telluride semiconductor on a very flexible and very thin film, researchers used advanced engineering. The film was, in fact, 100-square-mm flexible and weighed 0.4 gram. And, it is important to note that this is, therefore, a device that is lighter than a paperclip and smaller than a fingernail.

The result of this study is heartening – maximum output 185 milliwatts per square centimetre. Sugahara, further, states that this is in tandem with standard specifications for wearable sensors.

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Edward Turner

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