Tallahassee Teen Trying to Create Foot-Fueled Phone Charger

By: Julie Montanaro
May 16, 2016

We've all been there. 20% ... 10% ... that series of beeps ... warning you that your time talking and texting is about to run out.

And it always seems to happen at the most inopportune time.

"Nine times out of ten it'll die at the times I need it the most."

"Around seven, I have to run home and charge my phone."

"I carry my charger with me all the time."

A Tallahassee teen is convinced that one day, all you'll need to power your cell phone is a power source in your shoes.

Aditya Hota plays the baseline and the net. Singles or doubles.

The junior at Rickards High School competes on the tennis team, the math team and like his peers, he spends his share of time talking and texting on his cell phone.

"I see my friends and classmates on the phone pretty much the whole day," Hota said. "My classmates bring their chargers with them because they usually end up running out of battery during the day."

Hota is convinced that the power of his footsteps and yours will one day be harnessed to charge your cell phone without plugging in.

"The prospect of being able to generate energy without connecting your phone to the grid is pretty amazing," Hota said.

One day a week you will find Hota in a chemistry lab at Florida State.

He started working here when he was 15 and is determined to pull power from something called piezoelectric crystals.

"The purpose of this experiment in the lab is to determine between three different types of piezoelectric crystals,to see which one offers the best energy generation," Hota said.

The idea? Applying pressure to the crystals can generate an electric charge.

"If we put them in our shoes or our clothing, then as those move, we can generate energy and store that energy in a battery," Hota said, "and at the end of the day, use that to charge our phones."

"I think it's a really exciting project because there are lots of exciting applications down the road," Dr. Steve Acquah said. "That potential is there."

Hota and the professor he works with, Dr. Steve Acquah, are confident the combination of crystals and carbon nano tubes will power the phones and tablets of the future.

"There's a possible change that I can bring about in the world which is what really motivates me," Hota said.

"Some people might say, wow, creating electricity in your shoes and using it to charge your phone, is far fetched..."

"To them I would say it's definitely something that's far fetched for now, but through research, and seeing the different applications in the short term future, we definitely can have a product for this, hopefully in the next 10 to 15 years," Hota said.

We first heard about Hota's research after he placed second in the state science and engineering fair this spring.

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