Economical smart fabric that generates electric current by motion
The intense competition between companies and independent innovators to come up with energy efficient wearable tech is one of the trending concepts these days. Even more so is the trend of fabric embedded with sensors and electricity generating material that will pave way for future gadgets. Sang-Woo Kim, a material scientist at the Sungkyunkwan University and his fellow researchers have created a textile patch that when attached to the arm produces electric energy.
Driven by the will to make a practical wearable generator, the team drew inspiration from Zhong Lin Wang of Georgia Institute of Technology who made the first micro generator that used a mechanism to convert motion into electricity. Sang-Woo and his team used two layers of plain silver-coated textile and put 100nm-wide zinc oxide nanorods. Thereafter, they coated the fabric with polydimethylsiloxane and hence came into existence a fabric that when rubbed against each other produced electric current.
The fabric generates 120 V of current with just 98-N force on the 4-by 4-cm patch of the textile. To increase the electric power generating capacity of the fabric, researchers put four triboelectric generators on top to get 170 V and 120 µamp. The team has tested the prototype of this fabric and it can go through 12,000 compression cycles which is quite impressive.
Kim and his team demonstrated the effectiveness of this revolutionary fabric by attaching the patch on a jacket sleeve and then embedding six LEDs, small liquid-crystal display and keyless remote control to the jacket. Whenever the wearer moves his arm or wrists, this produces current to turn each of these gadgets with ease.
According to the developers this textile-based triboelectric generator produces a lot of power with minimum motion. This makes the wearable tech more practical and fully capable of being applied to many fields like medical, healthcare and defense technologies.