Every time you take a step, mechanical energy goes through the sole of your shoe, and scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California are figuring out a way to harness this energy, using a paper-thin generator. The ‘living generator’ uses viruses to convert the energy into electricity by harnessing the physical stress. It can produce enough electricity to run a small LCD panel. In the future, this could be a way to power personal devices like mobile phones or torches.
This generator is the first of its kind to harness the piezoelectric properties of a biological material, which are the accumulation of a charge in a solid in response to mechanical stress. There is much work to be done before the device is practical for public use, but it is a significant development in the field of personal power generation.