Science Daily writes:
"Key to this technology, Tahir Cagin [one of the researchers] explained, are piezoelectrics. Derived from the Greek word 'piezein,' which means 'to press,' piezoelectrics are materials (usually crystals or ceramics) that generate voltage when a form of mechanical stress is applied. Conversely, they demonstrate a change in their physical properties when an electric field is applied.
Discovered by French scientists in the 1880s, piezoelectrics aren't a new concept. They were first used in sonar devices during World War I. Today they can be found in microphones and quartz watches. Cigarette lighters in automobiles also contain piezoelectrics. Pressing down the lighter button causes impact on a piezoelectric crystal that in turn produces enough voltage to create a spark and ignite the gas."
This kind of technology could greatly affect portable technology, from cell phones and laptops to communicators and computer-related devices used by the general public as well as law enforcement and the military.
Think about never having to deal with dead batteries again -- the amount of money and resources it will save, as well as keeping the planet a little healthier by reducing the amount of heavy metals that are leached into the ground.
Information via Science Daily; photo: David Torcivia via Picasa.