How New Materials Research can Translate into New Opportunities for Innovation

Research and development can bring new materials and tools that dramatically expand the potential solution set for today.

Need to charge your smartphone where there is no outlet? Take a hike! Actually, with this new material recently highlighted in an article on CNN.com, researchers think you will be able to do just that.

“What if you could power up your smartphone with just a brisk walk? That’s the promise of Power Felt, a new creation of nanotechnology researchers at Wake Forest University. It’s a fabric, made up of tiny carbon nanotubes locked in flexible plastic fibers, that uses temperature differences to create a charge.

‘Heat is all around you,’ said David Carroll, Director of the Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials. ‘Heat differentials are everywhere.’ He says all the energy that heat generates is wasted without a way to harness and move it.

‘We’re going to go further and further with this,’ Carroll said. The practice of taking research from a university lab and trying to market it is one that’s relatively recent, he said. But more and more, Carroll said he’s seeing academic work moving from the theoretical to the practical without the new technology needing to change hands.”

By now, you must have imagined a dozen or so places you could use Power Felt’s ability to generate charge from wasted heat. From bottom of our laptops to the hood of our cars, heat needs to be dissipated, where would you use Power Felt?

R&D can bring new materials and tools that dramatically expand the potential solution set for today’s issues. Are we spending enough on “breakthrough” research?

Have a breakthrough week!

By Chuck Frey

About the author

Chuck Frey Senior Editor, founded InnovationTools.com and served as its publisher from its launch in 2002 until the partnership with Innovation Management in 2012. He is the publisher of The Mind Mapping Software Blog, the definitive souce for news, trends, tips and best practices for visual mapping tools. A journalist by trade, Chuck has over 14 years of experience in online marketing, and over 10 years experience in business-to-business public relations. His interests include creative problem solving, visual thinking, photography, business strategy and technology. His unique combination of experience and influences enables him to envision new possibilities and opportunities.

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