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Device could herald ‘talking newspaper’


Newspapers might talk in the future thanks to a paper thin device developed at Michigan State University (MSU).

Nanotechnology researchers at the American institution have demonstrated that something called a ferroelectret nanogenerator, or FENG device, can function as a microphone or loudspeaker. It can also generate energy from human movement.

Speaking about the tech, Nelson Sepulveda, MSU associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, said: “Every technology starts with a breakthrough and this is a breakthrough for this particular technology. This is the first transducer that is ultrathin, flexible, scalable and bidirectional, meaning it can convert mechanical energy to electrical energy and electrical energy to mechanical energy.”

The team embedded the Feng material in an MSU flag to show it could work as a loudspeaker. Music from an iPad was sent via an amplifier to the flag.

“The flag itself became the loudspeaker. So we could use it in the future by taking traditional speakers, which are big, bulky and use a lot of power, and replacing them with this very flexible, thin, small device,” Sepulveda said.

He added: “Imagine a newspaper, where the sheets are microphones and loudspeakers. You could essentially have a voice-activated newspaper that talks back to you.”

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