Researchers Design Rubber Film That Produces Electricity Under Stress

A rubber film has been designed by a research team that produces electrical energy when stressed. This feature can be potentially utilized as a sensor, incorporated into clothing or even inserted in the human body, to power a pacemaker, for example. The new material designed for Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (Empa) by a research team is a flexible, organic, thin film that produces electricity if compressed and stretched.

Researchers Design Rubber Film That Produces Electricity Under Stress

Dorina Opris, an Empa researcher, in a statement, said, “This material can possibly even be utilized to get power from the human body. It can be implanted in proximity to the heart to produce electrical energy from the heartbeat, for example.” This can supply power to the pacemakers or any other implanted tools, purging the requirement for invasive operations to substitute the battery.

And the credit goes to the piezoelectric effect that the specifically developed rubber is capable of converting the mechanical activities into electricity. The technique behind the produced current is the in-house polarization that alters when the rubber film is strained mechanically. For a long duration, the piezoelectric effect was recognized for crystals only. As these are solid and heavy, the effect can be utilized only in specific applications.

Nevertheless, the research team of Empa was successful in offering the new material piezoelectric characteristics. There is a range of likely uses of the novel rubber film. It can be utilized to create pressure sensors, for instance. An electrical impulse is generated, if the substance is compressed, that can be obtained and “recognized” by tools. This can be utilized to design a novel kind of control buttons, but also a receptive skin for bots that can sense (force) touches.

In addition, the film may be helpful in clothing to either keep an eye on the activities of the wearer or produce electrical energy from their movements, as stated by the researchers.

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