Ditching Batteries: Sound-Powered Sensors Could Soon Lead the Revolution

By: | February 14th, 2024

Ditching Batteries

In our tech-driven lives, sensors play a pivotal role, enhancing everything from medical devices to earthquake detection. These devices rely on small batteries, often necessitating daily replacements. The consequence? A staggering 15 billion batteries are discarded annually worldwide, worsening landfill woes.

As our dependence on batteries grows, so too does the environmental toll, highlighting the urgency for sustainable alternatives in our advancing technological era.

Disposing of Batteries May Soon Become History

ETH Zurich researchers have developed a breakthrough sensor powered solely by sound, potentially rendering battery disposal obsolete for certain devices.

Harnessing the vibrational energy of sound waves, the sensor generates electrical power, revolutionizing device operation without the need for batteries.

Innovative Sensor Design: Efficient Energy Harvesting and Sound Discrimination

Researchers utilized advanced computer modeling and algorithms to engineer a unique sensor structure comprising interconnected plates via minuscule bars to prevent overcharging. These bars dictate the sensor’s response to specific sounds. In their prototype, uttering “four” triggered the sensor to generate electrical pulses, contrasting with the non-responsive “three.”

The sensor is made entirely of silicone, without toxic heavy metals as well as rare earths found in conventional electronic counterparts. Researchers are currently refining its design to shrink it to thumbnail size. Future iterations will boast the ability to recognize twelve distinct words, including “on,” “off,” “up,” and “down.”

Zero-Energy Sensors for Diverse Applications

Zero-energy sensors, with low maintenance costs, offer versatile deployment options. They monitor buildings for earthquakes as well as decommissioned oil wells for gas leaks, sounding alarms upon detection of specific sound frequencies.

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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