Power-generating rubber films developed by two Princeton engineers were covered by a gaggle of media — both new and old — in recent weeks.

Dozens of stories were written about their innovation, which involved embedding piezoelectric ceramic nanoribbons in silicone rubber sheets so that they generate electricity when flexed. The material was developed by, Michael McAlpine, an assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and postdoctoral researcher Yi Qi.

A few highlights:

Popular Science

"Natural body movements such as breathing and walking could soon power pacemakers and maybe even give some extra juice to your future iPad purchase. Princeton University engineers have turned silicone rubber sheets into piezoelectric materials that create electricity when flexed, which opens up a whole range of possible applications worn outside the body or implanted in strategic locations."

Technology Review

"Flexibility could prove vital if energy-harvesting technology is to take off. And previous flexible energy harvesters–based on piezoelectric polymers, nanowires, or other types of crystal–put out little electrical current."


"By being the first team to successfully embed it into silicone, the Princeton engineers have opened up a whole slew of possibilities for where piezoelectric materials can be used – from inside the body to the soles of our shoes."