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Static electricity is good for sticking balloons to walls, but who knew it could be used to prolong the battery life of a smartphone. Sihong Wang and Long Lin, graduate students in Georgia Tech's materials science department have developed a two-layered material that generates power from static electricity and flexing.
So how much power can it make? In a paper in the journal Nano Letters, Wang and his team say they have hit 230 volts, at 15.5 microamperes per square centimeter, with a power output of 128 milliwatts per cubic centimeter. That means a sheet the size of the latest iPod Nano –- about three inches by 1.6 inches –- would generate just enough to charge the iPod as it is being flexed.
If it were used in the real world, odds are this wouldn't replace a battery, but it could extend the time between charges.