The very phenomenon of triboelectricity pertains to a scenario in which particular materials become electrically charged when they come in frictive contact (repeated touching and then separating) with other materials. The examples include the simple occurrences of static electricity, like running comb through your hair or rubbing glass with wool. And now, a global researching team from numerous institutes in South Korea and Australia has designed a flexible yet durable ‘nanopatterned’ cloth that takes advantage of this very same effect to generate energy. The ‘frictional contact’ in this case is presumably sustained by the human motion – and the resultant energy can be used to power wearables like the Apple Watch.
In other words, the scientists have envisaged a power suit of sorts that can produce electricity with the aid of triboelectric charging. The foldable nanogenerators within this textile are integrated via two different kinds of fabric. One of these fabrics is simple coated in silver, while the other variant is draped in silver, zinc oxide nanorods (that are 100 nanometer wide) and silicon rubber. And when four segments of this cloth were stacked atop each other and then compressed, the resultant action successfully generated 170 volts of electricity with an average of 120 microamperes of current. This translated to around 1.1 milliwatts of power being produced with every frictional push.
Fortuitously, the power textile was found be quite durable with its capacity to handle more than 12,000 cycles of frictional contact and compression. And finally, the scientists also proved that the so-called ‘power suit’ (a jacket with the embedded textile) can actually juice up wearable electronics. This was done by incorporating a set-up of six green LEDs, a LCD screen and a car-regulating remote control into the jacket. The end result pertained to the contraptions being effectively charged by the self-powering suit boasting of effective nanogenerators.
Image Credit: Sungkyunkwan University