Is it a technological breakthrough or a sign of the energy apocalypse, in which we turn to increasingly desperate means of generating power to keep civilisation afloat? We’re inclined to say the latter upon hearing the news that researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have generated energy by attaching a nanogenerator to a … wait for it … hamster.
Yes, by dressing the test rodent in a tiny jacket equipped with four nanogenerators, the research team was able to produce an electrical current of up to 0.5 nanoamps. Similar devices could be used to harvest energy from tapping fingers, vibrating vocal chords or flags flapping in a breeze, the researchers say.
“Using nanotechnology, we have demonstrated ways to convert even irregular biomechanical energy into electricity,” said Zhong Lin Wang, a Regent’s professor in the Georgia Tech School of Materials Science and Engineering. “This technology can convert any mechanical disturbance into electrical energy.”
So perhaps the future won’t be entirely dark and electricity-free … as long as you have a mini-stable of hamsters on hand?
“We believe this is the first demonstration of using a live animal to produce current with nanogenerators,” Wang said. “This study shows that we really can harness human or animal motion to generate current.”