Scientists from the Lowa State University have designed a device that mimics a cottonwood tree. It leaves and branches generate electricity while swaying in the wind.
Tiny strips of special plastics located inside the leaf stalks emit electricity when the wind bends them- a process called piezoelectric effect. This prototype biometric tree concept is like that of wind turbines. But the technology can be a lineage for small and visually unnoticeable machines that convert the wind into electricity.
The prototype does not look like a real tree. A more convincing artificial tree with numerous leaves should be created without compromising the efficiency.
"We set out to answer the question of whether you can get useful amounts of electrical power out of something that looks like a plant. The answer is 'possibly,' but the idea will require further development" said Michael McCloskey, the research lead.
He further added that cell phone towers have been designed like trees in order to enhance the aesthetic appeal of the towers in areas like Las Vegas. If energy can be tapped from those leaves, their functionality would increase. This concept can also be used in diverse fields like manufacturing, nanotechnology and computer science.