Scientists are coming up with all sorts of new energy-generating technology, including new solar thermal plants and nuclear fusion – but paper? The minds at Disney Research have invented a new type of power supply that turns paper into an electrical energy generator. And it’s not just static electricity; the paper generator can create enough energy to power LEDs, e-paper displays, and other devices.
The same people that conceived plant-controlled touch software, Disney Research developed their paper generator based on electrets, which are materials that hold a quasi-permanent electric charge. The paper generator itself is made up of a sheet of teflon (the same stuff that makes your pan non-stick and bullet proof vests) sandwiched between two conductive layers of metallized polyester. When you rub paper over this sheet, it produces an electrical charge with enough power to light up an array of LEDs, send a wireless signals to a PC, or sound a buzzer.
Basically any friction will generate a charge whether it be in response to rubbing, tapping or any number of gestures. And because the material is so thin, it could potentially be added to interactive applications for books and other printed media like posters. Imagine one day those electronic children’s books could have pages that react to a child’s touch and you won’t have to worry about keeping a fresh battery in it either.
Images © Disney Research