Scientists from the University of Massachusetts Amherst have created a device capable of generating electricity from the water vapor that is naturally present in the atmosphere. This could be a true game-changer, especially with regard to powering wireless electronics. The device, coined the “Air-gen,” traces its roots back more than three decades to the muddy shores of the Potomac River. There, scientists discovered an unusual microbe belonging to the Geobacter genus that, among other things, could produce magnetite without oxygen.
While experimenting with the material, electrical engineer Jun Yao discovered – almost by accident – that when the nanowires were contacted with electrodes in a specific way, they generated a current. “I found that exposure to atmospheric humidity was essential and that protein nanowires adsorbed water, producing a voltage gradient across the device,” the scientist said.
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