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Energy Textiles

February 24, 2010

A new technique turns textiles into batteries.


Getting a charge out of your clothes. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

In the future, your shirt could charge your cell phone, laptop, or mp3 player. That’s the goal of engineer Yi Cui and his colleagues at Stanford University. In the journal Nano Letters, they describe a technique for making textiles like cotton and polyester electrically conductive, by dipping them in a dye laced with tiny structures called carbon nanotubes. Cui says these textiles can hold a charge just like a conventional battery.

YI CUI (Stanford University):
It can function as the power sources for wearable electronics, in your clothes…

Or, they could put electronic functions in the fabrics themselves, from temperature-sensitive heating to medical monitoring. One design hurdle is to coat the fabrics with a sealant so they’re safe to wear against your skin. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.