Energy-Generating Fabric Set To Power Battery-Free Wearables

A team of researchers in Korea and Australia have developed a flexible fabric which generates power from human movement – a breakthrough which could replace batteries in future wearable devices.

The foldable technology incorporates triboelectric nanogenerators (TNGs), and two durable fabrics: a silver-coated textile and another coated in silicon rubber and silver, zinc oxide nanorods approximately 100 nanometres wide and one micron high. The effect of the nanogenerators mirrors static electricity when the two fabrics repeatedly brush against each other and one surface steals electrons from the other – this exchange creates energy from the wearer’s activity without the need for an external power source.

When the research team, led by Sang-Woo Kim, placed four pieces of the fabric on top of each other and pushed down with slight finger pressure, it immediately generated an average of 170 volts and 120 microamperes, and a maximum power of around 1.1 milliwatts.

The lightweight fabric has been found to be extremely durable with the technology still producing electricity after over 12,000 compression and release cycles.

According to the scientists, this ‘smart’ fabric could lead to a number of important uses including the ability to charge wearable devices, such as smartwatches, robotic skin and medical device applications. … (read more)