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Nanotechnology in clothing harvests energy from the wearer’s movements

Fibers made from zinc oxide nanowires can generate electrical current from low frequency mechanical motion, like body movements. Last April we noted the initial success of Prof. Z.L. Wang at Georgia Tech in using nanowires to produce electricity (Power system invented for nanotechnology). Now PhysOrg.com reports Prof. Wang’s further progress with nanotech power systems. From “Remarkable new nano-fiber clothing may someday power your iPod“:

Nanotechnology researchers are developing the perfect complement to the power tie: a “power shirt” able to generate electricity to power small electronic devices for soldiers in the field, hikers and others whose physical motion could be harnessed and converted to electrical energy.

The February 14 issue of the journal Nature details how pairs of textile fibers covered with zinc oxide nanowires can generate electrical current using the piezoelectric effect. Combining current flow from many fiber pairs woven into a shirt or jacket could allow the wearer’s body movement to power a range of portable electronic devices. The fibers could also be woven into curtains, tents or other structures to capture energy from wind motion, sound vibration or other mechanical energy.

—Jim

2 Responses to “Nanotechnology in clothing harvests energy from the wearer’s movements”

  1. Christine Peterson Says:

    Here’s a quote I found in the Forbes/Wolfe Weekly Insider e-newsletter:

    “The fiber-based nano-generator would be a simple and economical way to harvest energy from physical movement. If we can combine many of these fibers in double or triple layers in clothing, we could provide a flexible, foldable and wearable power source that would allow people to generate electrical current while walking.”
    –Zhong Lin Wang, Professor, Georgia Institute of Technology

  2. - Says:

    Skimmed the paper. Kinda interesting, but they said nothing I noticed about conversion efficiency, nor did there seem to be any data presented to let a reader estimate this.

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