You can charge a phone battery by playing music at it

There are any number of research teams trying to build alternative power sources for your cellphone. Do you want to put tiny windmills on it? What about plugging it into a solar-powered charging bench or just holding it up to the sun? Now, at the Queen Mary University of London, a group of scientists has created a prototype panel capable of charging a cellphone off environmental vibrations like music or dinner conversation.

Researchers call the device a “nanogenerator,” and it looks like a flat metal plate with some wires attached. In reality, it’s plastic sprayed with a sheet of tiny zinc oxide rods that generate electricity when squashed or stretched — as they would be in the presence of everyday background noise. The group is…

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