Researchers at Georgia Tech develop fabric, made using lightweight polymers and energy-capturing materials, capable of generating electricity from solar and kinetic energy.
We’ve seen bacteria used to power shape-changing garments, high-fashion solar wearables and wirelessly charging trousers. Now researchers have developed a fabric that could enable users to generate electricity from two sources via their clothing.
The team at Georgia Tech has developed a fabric that can self-generate power using both solar and kinetic energy. Long, wire-like polymer solar cells are infused into woolen fibers and triboletic nanogenerators used to convert static electricity (created when the fibers move across one another) into stored energy. This technique has allowed the researchers to create a lightweight fabric that can be used to power wearables simply by the user taking a walk outdoors. Using inexpensive polymers and eco-friendly materials, the team believes the fabric, which is made using industrial textile machinery, could be scaled commercially, with early tests showing durability and efficient energy conversion, even on a cloudy day.
As electronics become more prevalent in clothing, with examples including pollution-detecting sensors and fitness trackers, the researchers believe their fabric could help power the wearable revolution. What other developments could power-generating fabrics enable?