Research scientists at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland have demonstrated a new technique for generating electrical energy. The method can be used in harvesting energy from mechanical vibrations of the environment and converting it into electricity. Energy harvesters are needed in wireless self-powered sensors and medical implants, where they could ultimately replace batteries. The technology could be introduced on an industrial scale within three to six years.

Schematic of the new electricity generation technique. Bodies 1 and 2 have different work functions.

The scientists generated energy by utilizing the charging phenomenon that occurs naturally between two bodies with different work functions. Moving of these bodies with respect to each other generates energy because of the attractive electrostatic force between the opposite charges. The energy generated by this motion was converted into useful electrical power by connecting the bodies to an external circuit.