Swiss scientists extract electricity from wood

Researchers at the Swiss Higher Technical School have created chemically modified wood and

made it more compressible by turning it intomini generator. When compressed, the material generates an electrical voltage. Such wood can serve as a biosensor or building material that generates energy.

Ingo Burgert and his team showed thatwood is much more than just a building material. In their experiments, they improved the properties of the wood in order to use it in new areas of application. For example, they have already developed high-strength, water-repellent and magnetizable wood.

Now, together with the research groupEmpa, the team used a single chemical and biological process to generate electrical voltage from a wooden sponge. In doing so, they enhance the piezoelectric effect of wood.

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The researchers explained that when elasticdeformation of the piezoelectric material, it generates an electrical voltage. Measurement technology detects this phenomenon using sensors that generate a charge signal under mechanical stress. However, many of the materials commonly used for these sensors are unsuitable for biomedical applications. For example, lead zirconate titanate (PZT) cannot be used on the skin due to the toxic lead.

The tree also has a naturalpiezoelectric effect, but generates only a very low electrical voltage. However, scientists were able to increase its stress by changing the chemical composition of the wood.

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