Nano-bristle T-shirt from.. ummm… Science!

by Andy on February 16, 2008

Okay, here’s a diversion from my usual coverage, a t-shirt that can actually generate electricity! From the New Scientist:

In 2007 Zhong Lin Wang, a materials scientist at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, US, developed a generator composed of a forest of piezoelectric zinc oxide nanowires topped by a flat conductive plate. As the plate is pushed down, the wires bend, producing a voltage that induces current to flow into the plate.

Now Wang has turned this idea into an electricity-generating thread, which he plans to weave into a fabric. His team figured out how to grow the nanowires on a strand of Kevlar fibre instead of a flat surface, so that the wires stick out from the fibre like the bristles on a pipe-cleaner.

When two of the bristly fibres rub against one another, the nanowires deform, causing a current to flow through a thin layer of metal coating on one of the fibres.

(That’s quite a long quote, so I feel like a bit of a plagiariser, but there’s no way I’d be able to explain this succinctly)

How awesome would it be if you could charge your cellphone just by wearing a t-shirt? Or keep your iPhone playing as long as you kept walking? I’d imagine that we’re probably many years away from this being a usable technology, but it’s always interesting to see how technology is moving on.

New Scientist

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