The biggest problem with today’s generation is that they want smart wearables, clothes without carrying a battery pack with their body. However, there’s indeed an interesting solution of it, thanks to the researchers at the University of Texas, Dallas, who have developed a special ultra-thin yarn from the carbon nanotube, which can generate power when stretched. They have named it twistron.
Albeit there are a lot of piezoelectric components out there, which can produce power when compressed or stretched. However, this developed yarn is quite strong, as well as flexible and plays the role of a super capacitor to boot. Researchers coiled and twisted the ultra-thin carbon nanotube, enabling it to provide the conductivity, stretch and desired qualities.
“Electronic textiles are of major commercial interest, but how are you going to power them?” asked Ray Baughman, head UT Dallas’s NanoTech Institute, in a news release. “Harvesting electrical energy from human motion is one strategy for eliminating the need for batteries. Our yarns produced over a hundred times higher electrical power per weight when stretched compared to other weavable fibers reported in the literature.”
The yarn they developed in the lab can be twisted into elastic-like coils, in a way it let the thread produce electricity when pulled. The energy generated from one piece of yarn can turn on a LED light and produced 250 watts per kilogram when a number of them are tied together and pulled 30 times per second.
To test the type of the yarn, the team sewed the twistron harvesters into a shirt, along with the electrolyte in a gel woven into the fabric. It generated small but working amounts of electricity capable of powering a wearable just from the wearer’s respiration.
In another experiment, they tested the ocean waves to find out if they could both stretch the carbon nanotube and act as an electrolyte at the same time. Shi Hyeong Kim, one of the lead authors attached a balloon to a weight with twistron yarn and dumped it into the ocean of South Korea. The line moved and stretched because of the wave action, producing a small amount of current.
The team has patented the tech. However, as twistron harvesters are quite expensive to create, it will take time before you see it in action. So, if you’re willing to wear some cool smart clothes or wearables without having to carry a battery pack, you have to wait until they find a less expensive way to produce such yarn.