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Paper-Thin Device Generates Power, Morphs Into Foldable Microphone

Michigan State University researchers introduce a super-thin flexible device that generates energy from human motion and can also act as a loudspeaker and microphone. The audio breakthrough could lead to such consumer products like a foldable loudspeaker or a voice-activated security patch for computers. Last year, the Michigan team successfully demonstrated their device - known as a ferroelectret nanogenerator, or FENG - by using it to power a keyboard, LED lights, and an LCD touch-screen. That process worked with a finger swipe to activate the devices - converting mechanical energy to electrical energy. The current breakthrough extends the FENG's usability. The researchers discovered the material can act as a microphone by capturing the vibrations from sound, or mechanical energy, and converting it to electrical energy, as well as a loudspeaker - by operating the opposite way, converting electrical energy to mechanical energy.