Scientists use lightning bolts to power cell phone

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

lightning phone charge
Scientists from the University of Southampton managed to charge a Nokia cell phone using a bolt of lightning!

Can you imagine walking out in the middle of a thunderstorm and raising your phone into the air, hoping to juice the battery with a bolt of lightning? Pretty silly, I know, but apparently researchers from the University of Southampton tried it themselves in an experiment, and the results were pretty electrifying!

They didn’t get drenched in a thunderstorm waiting for a crack of light to break across the sky, though (please, please, please, don’t try this at home). Instead, they used a  Nokia Lumia 925 and simulated bolts of lightning to run their experiment.

“We were excited by this challenge presented to us by Nokia,” said Neil Palmer, a scientist at the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom. “Using an alternating current, driven by a transformer, over 200,000 volts was sent across a 300mm gap –  giving heat and light similar to that of a lightning bolt.” This electrical signal was then channeled into a special machine, where it was able to charge the phone.

Wow, that’s so awesome! It reminds me of Dr. Frankenstein’s monster, who was brought to life using large volts of electricity. But, short of being a cool science experiment, what’s the point of using simulated lightning to charge a phone? It doesn’t seem too practical.

Well, in addition to proving such a thing is even possible at all, this experiment tinkers with harnessing the raw power of the bolts and using the energy to our advantage! Again, just because it’s a “natural” source of energy doesn’t mean you should try this at home. Even as professional scientists working in a highly controlled environment, the researchers still had to be supervised.

Images and video courtesy of Nokia.