Star Trek, MIT And The Mobile Phone

23  April 2016

 

Star Trek, MIT And The Mobile Phone

Mobile phones can be made out of a range of stuff, glass, wood, bamboo, we've even heard of Mobiles made out grass. But there's a new kid on the block – actually it’s a material, unlike any we have seen before. Like wool, nylon, polyester or cotton, the new material could be a household name in years to come and used in the construction of everything.

Have you ever noticed in Gene Rodenberry’s Star Trek where Enterprise away teams go down onto bitterly cold or seemingly hot planets and never seem to take a coat or a sweater? They never shiver in the cold, sweat in the heat and all the while wear that same Enterprise commissioned uniform top.

Well those brainy bods with 160 plus, IQ's over at MIT, Professor Jeffrey Grossman, postdoc David Zhitomirsky, and graduate student Eugene Cho, described their findings in a paper called the journal of Advanced Energy Materials.

It may be the stuff of science fiction but such a sweater could be just around the corner. A sweater that could increase its temperature as we tell it to, and no, we are not talking about thermal underwear or the like. Just think, you will be able to go out at night and join your friends at the harbour side restaurants and not bother taking that extra jacket to keep the chill off as the sweater will keep you both warm and cooler on command, depending on what you require.

Solar Thermal Fuel Polymer Film as its called is a polymer film which is see-through and harvests heat right from solar power. It then saves the sun’s rays in its material for use later on – pretty much in the same way those garden lights do.

But there is one subtle difference in the way the material works over the way that garden light stores energy. The garden light takes the sun’s rays and heat and stores it as electricity, the new material takes the heat and energy from the sun and stores it as a chemical instead of electricity. Now saved into the material, the solar heat can be released when you are sat in that chilly back yard pub garden at night and released by a chemical reaction.

Just think, no more taking a coat out with you at night and worrying about whether you have left that jacket at the restaurant or in the pub when you last took it off. But can this material also work a treat for the mobile phone? The short answer is yes!

If this material is sandwiched between two layers of energy-producing warmth, it could well charge up our mobile phone battery as we go out on the town. There will be no need to plug in and recharge every few hours, as the phone battery will self-charge throughout the evening.