US-based Nanotechnology researchers have developed a microfibre textile that would have the ability to generate electricity. It can recharge portable, wearable electronic devices such as mobile phones, iPods or any other MP3 players that require low-level of power.
If the fabric is used in the shirt, it would collect power when the wearer is walking slowly or even from a slight breeze. This nanogenerator is definitely a simple and economical way to yield energy from physical movements.
It uses the semiconductive properties of zinc oxide nanowires, which is a 1,000 times smaller wire than the width of a human hair, to be entrenched into the fabric to offer electricity. These tiny wires are paired together and form microscopic brush-like structures that are similar in shape to a baby-bottle brush. It is then coated with gold and provides an electrode.
The stiff wires brush together through a person’s body movement, which transforms the mechanical movement into electricity. A layer of polymer is been added to avoid the zinc oxide from being washed out. The ultra-thin gold layer is also placed into the fibers to act as conductors.
“They automatically grow on the surface of the fiber. In principal, you could use any fiber that is conductive. Our estimates show we can have up to 80 milliwatts per square meter of this fabric. This is enough to power a little iPod or charge a cell phone battery,” stated Zhong Lin Wang of the Georgia Institute of Technology, who led the study.
Scientists carried out quite a few tests to make sure that the friction was not just harvesting static electricity but also generating current when both the gold and the zinc oxide bristles brushed together. Till now, the researchers have developed a small prototype.
Now, as zinc oxides do not work in water or when they get wet, the team is working to protect the fabric in the laundry.
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