There's no denying that we live in a world full of amazing technology, but most of that stays far, far away from the washing machine. But what if your gadgets were safe for washing, and what if your gadgets were on your clothes? Or what if they were your clothes? Those are the questions being asked and answered at the University of California, Berkeley, where new research is leading to what can only be described as a "power
Researchers have somehow managed to create "energy-scavenging nanofibers that could one day be woven into clothing and textiles," meaning that the very clothes you wear could one day power gadgets or be a gadget in and of itself. The trick to making all of those a reality (and turning your future trips to the GAP into a whole ordeal) are nano-sized generators that have "piezoelectric properties that allow them to convert into electricity the energy created through mechanical stress, stretches and twists." According to Liwei Lin, UC Berkeley professor of mechanical engineering and head of the international research team that developed the fiber nanogenerators:
"This technology could eventually lead to wearable 'smart clothes' that can power
hand-held electronics through ordinary body movements," said Liwei Lin, UC
Berkeley professor of mechanical engineering and head of the international
research team that developed the fiber nanogenerators"
With fiber diameters as small as 500nm, these strands can generate electrical output ranging from 5 to 30 mV. Also, the researchers report no
noticeable degradation after stretching and releasing the nanofibers for 100
minutes at a frequency of 0.5 hertz. During tests, the researchers
demonstrated energy conversion efficiencies as high as 21.8%, with an
average rating of around 12.5%.
Imagine if runners could power their small MP3 players
simply by moving within the clothes that they usually wear to train in. That's the goal here, and it's almost a reality. We aren't given a time table as to when this technology will be available for consumers to purchase, but those who detest batteries and their impact on the environment, are anxiously awaiting the news. We'll be sure to track this one for you as it has the potential to be a real game-changer.