Photo: Nanodraht
A single zinc oxide nanowire;
© Meek/gatech.edu

A single zinc oxide nanowire can be attached to a rat’s heart, where it produces electric current as it bends with every beat. Researchers, led by Zhong Lin Wang, demonstrated, that the wires produce electricity when under mechanical stress, called the piezoelectric effect. Now, it's been proven to work inside a living animal.

The Researchers put a zinc oxide nanowire onto a flexible polymer and encapsulated it into a polymer casing to protect it from bodily fluids. When attached to the rat's diaphragm, the animal's breathing stretched the nanowire, and it generated a tiny amount of electricity – about four pico-amps of current at two millivolts. When it was attached to the rat's heart, the nano-generator produced about 30 pico-amps at about three millivolts.

The rat generator operates at the femtowatt scale – a pico-amp is a million millionth of an amp, so it is a tiny amount of current – so not very much power. But the technology has potential to power nano-sized devices, Wang says in a paper on the results.

Wang's team is already building on the rat findings. The team has a device that integrates hundreds of nanowires into an array, giving an output current of about 100 nano-amps at 1.2 volts. The next step is to connect the higher-powered nano-generator inside an animal, Wang says.


COMPAMED.de; Source: Georgia Institute of Technology