IN a study in Nano Letters, scientists report that they have developed a flexible, biocompatible rubber film called Piezo-rubber for use in implantable or wearable energy harvesting systems. The material could be used, for instance, to harvest energy from the motion of the lungs during breathing and used to run pacemakers without the need for batteries that must be surgically replaced every few years.
Popular hand-held consumer electronic devices are using smaller and smaller amounts of electricity. That opens the possibility of supplementing battery power with electricity harvested from body movements. So-called “piezoelectric” materials are the obvious candidates, since they generate electricity when flexed or subjected to pressure. However, manufacturing piezoelectric materials requires temperatures of more than 1,000 degrees F , making it difficult to combine them with rubber.