Power your phone with thin air? The gadget that can generate energy from the atmosphere

Researchers believe they have discovered a device which may be able to power your phone and other electronic items from energy in the air.

They have found that by harnessing energy from the air around us could potentially power wireless sensors, microprocessors and communications chips.

These ‘energy scavenging’ devices could even be stored in places like our shoes and can be used by itself or with other generating technologies.

Manos Tentzeris, professor in the Georgia Tech School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, said: ‘There is a large amount of electromagnetic energy all around us, but nobody has been able to tap into it.’

If a battery or a solar-collector or battery package failed completely, scavenged energy could allow the system to transmit a wireless distress signal while also maintaining critical functionalities, according to a Georgia Tech statement.

Mr Tentzeris and his team have used inkjet printers to combine sensors, antennas and energy scavenging capabilities on paper or flexible polymers.

So far, the energy captured is minute – measured in microwatts and milliwatts, not megawatts – but is able to gather enough juice to power small sensors and RFID tags.

For example, the researchers last week said they had managed to gather enough energy from a TV station a half-kilometre away to power a small temperature sensor.

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