Does electric fabric measure up or is it a loose end?

  Would you wear clothes made out of a fabric that could charge your phone? Thanks to the international team of researchers that have created ‘twistron’, a twisted fibre made […]

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By Jonny Bairstow
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Would you wear clothes made out of a fabric that could charge your phone?

Thanks to the international team of researchers that have created ‘twistron’, a twisted fibre made of gel-coated carbon nanotubes, this could one day be possible.

Designed by scientists led by the University of Texas, the material could be used to salvage tiny amounts of energy from ambient heat, radio waves or movement to power pocket-sized electronic devices.

To make it, a mesh of carbon atoms are rolled into tubes 10,000 times thinner than the width of a human hair, before bundles of these nanotubes are woven together and twisted, making them elastic.

When coated in an electrolyte solution such as salt water, the fibre buzzes and rearranges charges to generate a voltage as it is stretched and moved around.

A kilogram of the material ‘buzzing’ at a rate of 30 times a second would produce 250 watts of electricity, more than enough to run a desktop computer.