Nanopiezoelectric research hopes to pull tiny amounts of power from minuscule movements, like breathing. Now, Georgia Tech researchers have made a nanopiezoelectric jacket for hamsters that successfully generates .1 volts of electricity.
Woven from zinc oxide nanowires (strands that are 1/50th the width of a human hair), Georgia Tech's hamster jacket is the first nanopiezoelectric device to successfully harvest energy from animals. How much energy could those hamsters produce in real world application? Right now, it would take 1,000 hamsters to charge a cellphone. A human-sized jacket could power an iPod.
Since the theory has been proven to work in a lab setting, there's nothing stopping the technology from being scaled to fit humans—other than the obvious engineering hurdles that must be crossed to make a giant nanotech jacket. Such large scale testing should commence in about three years, according to researchers. [msnbc via Geekologie]