Diagram of the slider-crank mechanism. (Credit: AIP)

An energy harvester attached to the wearer’s knee can generate 1.6 μW of power while the wearer walks without any increase in effort. The energy is enough to power small electronics like health monitoring equipment.

The researchers used a special smart macrofiber material, which generates energy from any sort of bending it experiences, to create a slider-crank mechanism. The authors chose to attach the device to the knee due to the knee joint’s large range of motion compared to most other human joints.

Due to the continuous back-and-forth that the material will encounter when the wearer walks, every time the knee flexes, the device bends and generates electricity. This means the harvester can capture biomechanical energy through the natural motion of the human knee.

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