02/10/2013 10:10 BST | Updated 02/10/2013 10:18 BST

Lightning Used To Charge Mobile Phone Battery (Do Not Try It Yourself)

Scientists have charged a mobile phone using lightning.

But before you start climbing trees dressed in tin foil, it was done in carefully controlled lab conditions.

Researchers from the University of Southampton teamed up with Nokia to examine the plausibility of tapping into one of nature's most significant energy sources.


Lightning strikes somewhere in the world 40-50 times a second

Neil Palmer of the University’s Tony Davies High Voltage Laboratory, described how they managed to send 200,000 volts across a 300mm gap "giving heat and light similar to that of a lightning bolt".

He added: "We were amazed to see that the Nokia circuitry somehow stabilised the noisy signal, allowing the battery to be charged.

"This discovery proves devices can be charged with a current that passes through the air, and is a huge step towards understanding a natural power like lightning and harnessing its energy."

It's certainly an exciting development. One lightning bolt contains enough energy to power a home for a whole month - though predicting where they will strike it rather tricky.

The phenomenon is a discharge of static electricity when an imbalance occurs between a cloud and the Earth's surface.

Chris Weber, Executive Vice President for Sales & Marketing at Nokia, said: "This is a first for any mobile phone company to trial this kind of technology.

"We obviously aren’t recommending people try this experiment at home, but we are always looking to disrupt and push the boundaries of technology and find innovative ways to improve the performance of our products."