TOS Blog: Daily Commentary from an Objectivist Perspective

New Technology Promises Electrical Power from Friction

It isn’t Galt’s Motor from Atlas Shrugged, the fictional generator that pulls unlimited amounts of static electricity from the air. Still, an innovative new use of available materials shows promise in converting static electricity into power for small devices.

Katherine Bourzac, writing for the MIT Technology Review, explains the work led by Georgia Tech’s Zhong Lin Wang:

The Georgia Tech researchers demonstrated that [a] static charge phenomenon, called the triboelectric effect, can be harnessed to produce power using a type of plastic, polyethylene terephthalate, and a metal. When thin films of these materials come into contact with one another, they become charged. And when the two films are flexed, a current flows between them, which can be harnessed to charge a battery. When the two surfaces are patterned with nanoscale structures, their surface area is much greater, and so is the friction between the materials—and the power they can produce.

This technology provides enough power for such things as pacemakers, LEDs, and small batteries for cell phones and other devices. The advance is a wonderful example of how devotion to reason and science improves human life.

Like this post? Join our mailing list to receive our weekly digest. And for in-depth commentary from an Objectivist perspective, subscribe to our quarterly journal, The Objective Standard.


Creative Commons Image: Ken Bosma

Posted in: Science and Technology

Comments are welcome so long as they are civil.
  • Martin Lundqvist


  • e_cell global

    Well, this is without a doubt great! At least we could save electricity more with it. Although there are already existing devices that are supported by solar and wind energies, this one still is something worthwhile. :)