Part of the Nanotechnology glossary:

A nanogenerator is a nanoscale (extremely small) device capable of generating electric current , electromagnetic field s or subatomic particle radiation. Several prototype s have been developed that hold promise for use in various fields of nanotechnology .

Researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology are working on a nanogenerator prototype that uses microscopic wires to generate electricity when they vibrate. The currents arise in zinc-oxide nanowire s as a result of the piezoelectric effect, which is similar to the phenomenon that causes quartz crystals to produce tiny currents when subjected to mechanical stress. The design is in the research-and-development phase. Engineers hope that a working electric nanogenerator will be available by 2010 or 2011.

A molecular nanogenerator developed by Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center causes actinium atoms to release high-speed alpha particles (helium nuclei) that can kill malignant tumor cells. This type of device could have profound implications for medical science, particularly radiology.

This was last updated in July 2006
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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