Chip harvesting electricity may charge your mobile phone while you talk


Your mobile phone may soon be charging itself while you talk, powered up by a new kind of chip that can harvest electricity. It converts "waste" electromagnetic radiation directly into power and the technology will deliver a new kind of highly efficient solar cell.

"It is energy harvesting from electromagnetic waves," explains Prof Vojislav Krstic, of Trinity College's school of physics and principal investigator at Crann nanotechnology research centre.

He heads the nano and magnetoelectronics research centre there. "We are looking into advanced materials and their electronic properties," he says. Crann also happens to be a world leader in the production of nanotech structures, and his team can characterise their electrical properties, using funding from Science Foundation Ireland's Technology Innovation Development Award programme. He called one such structure a "forest". It is formed from pure nickel metal but instead of trees it sports antennas. And in keeping with its nanotech connections, these antennas are minute.

Just 1sq cm can hold 100 million of these antenna "trees", and these are the devices that deliver the power.