A small device made from household materials such as paper, pencil and a teflon tape can generate enough electricity to operate a remote control.
A team from EPFL (Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne) in Switzerland, working with researchers from the University of Tokyo, used these everyday materials to make a tiny device that can generate more than three volts of power.
The simple, eco-friendly and inexpensive system can produce the same current as two AA batteries.
This is enough to power micro- or nano-sensors, which need only a little electricity to run.
“The one that we developed in the framework of this European project is the first one to use natural, everyday and environmentally friendly materials,” says Jurgen Brugger, a professor at the Microsystems Laboratory.
This could have applications in the medical field, for example. Ultra low-cost sensors made of paper for various diagnostic purposes, which would be especially practical for developing countries, are already being tested.
This paper system could represent the next step, since it would remove the need for conventional batteries. Another advantage is that it does not generate waste, as it can simply be incinerated or left to decompose naturally.