In news that's certain to make every chatterbox and blabbermouth with a cell phone jibberjabber even more, scientists have discovered the next renewable energy source—the sound waves of the human voice.
Discovery News is reporting that Korean scientists have “turned the key ingredient in calamine lotion into a material that converts sound waves into electricity.”
This breakthrough could produce panels capable of charging a cell phone from a conversation.
"Just as speakers transform electric signals into sound, the opposite process—of turning sound into a source of electrical power—is possible," said Young Jun Park and Sang-Woo Kim, the authors of a new article in the journal Advanced Materials.
The science behind harvesting energy is called piezoelectrics.
According to Science Daily:
Derived from the Greek word "piezein," which means "to press," piezoelectrics are materials that generate voltage when a form of mechanical stress is applied. Discovered by French scientists in the 1880s, piezoelectrics aren't a new concept. They were first used in sonar devices during World War I. Today they can be found in microphones and quartz watches.
As for marketplace feasibility, well, that's years away, say Park and Kim. Their experiment produced a mild current of about 50 millivolts. The average cell phone requires a few volts to operate, several times the power this technology can currently produce.