New fabric turns body movement into electricity, demonstrate researchers


In a new development, scientists at Nanyang Technological University have developed a waterproof and stretchable fabric that converts energy generated from body movement into electrical energy.

A polymer is a crucial component in the fabric which when pressed or squashed transforms mechanical energy into electrical energy. The base layer of the fabric is made with stretchable spandex and integrated with a rubber-like material to keep it flexible, strong, and waterproof.

A proof-of-concept experiment of the fabric reported in Advanced Materials in April demonstrated that tapping 3 cm by 4 cm of the fabric generated sufficient electrical energy to light 100 LEDs.

The fabric did not show any performance degradation on washing, crumpling, or folding, and it could maintain stable electrical yield for up to five months. This demonstrated the use of the fabric as a smart textile and wearable power source.

Earlier, there have been attempts to develop garments or fabric that could harvest energy from movement, but to prevent degradation has been a challenge, stated the associate who led the study.

Importantly, the study demonstrates that the prototype continues to function well after crumpling and washing. The fabric could be tailored into t-shirts or combined into soles of shoes to harvest energy from the body’s smallest movements, to pipe electricity into mobile devices.

Meanwhile, the electricity- producing fabric is an energy gathering device that converts vibrations produced from the slightest movement in the body in everyday life into electrical energy.

The prototype fabric generates electricity in two ways: When it is squashed or pressed, and when it comes in contact with other materials, or there is friction with other materials such as rubber gloves or skin.

Edward Turner

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