Tiny electronics are embedded in our lives, sensing and gathering all manner of information (from climate to health data), monitoring for changes, tracking products… They don’t need a lot of power to run, but even the most efficient still need some. And with billions of them out there (and growing), many in dangerous or unreachable locations, flat batteries are a big problem.
Scientists are working on this from two angles, making the chips and devices more power-efficient and/or finding new ways to cancel out their power needs. Success would mean ICTs that are finally ‘zero-power’. For example, the EU-backed Nanopower project is working on a new class of powering devices or microgenerators that transform enough electricity from the minute vibrations of solid bodies (mechanical noise) to run themselves.
Meanwhile, the Zeropower coordination activity brings together communities interested in energy harvesting and low-power, energy efficient ICTs. For example, project partner NiPS (Noise in Physical System Laboratory) organises, together with Nanopower, a summer school dedicated to ‘Energy harvesting at micro- and nanoscale’. Young researchers, graduate students and post-docs are welcome.