We've all been there – listening to music on the commute home from work or enjoying a lazy afternoon in the park, and then the smartphone runs out of juice, leaving just the sound of silence. But what if listening to music had the opposite effect?

Scientists from Queen Mary University and London (QMUL) and Nokia have been working in partnership to investigate the potential of using sound to charge mobile phones – and it looks as if this could become a reality, based on new findings.

QMUL's Dr Joe Briscoe and Dr Steve Dunn had already found that playing pop and rock music improved the performance of solar cells, and that research has now been taken further by academics and scientists from Nokia as we'll now explain.

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An energy-harvesting prototype – or a nanogenerator – was created by the team that was able to charge a mobile phone using the type of background noise we hear every day – from traffic to our own voices, as well as music.

"Nanorods" that respond to movement and vibrations caused by sound are used to generate the electrical voltage needed to charge a phone, with contacts on either side of the rod used to gather that power. But is it the end of the traditional phone charger?

Dr Joe Briscoe said: "Being able to keep mobile devices working for longer, or do away with batteries completely by tapping into the stray energy that is all around us is an exciting concept. 

"This collaboration was an excellent opportunity to develop alternative device designs using cheap and scalable methods. We hope that we have brought this technology closer to viability."

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