MicroFiber to Power Your Mobile Gadgets

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So how many times have you given yourself an electrical shock this winter? I’m counting more than ten…or wait probably even more.

Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology are working on ways to harness your body movements to provide electricity to your mobile electronics. Utilizing millions of tiny nanogenerators, minuscule amounts of power could be retrieved from motion generated when flexed. Pairs of textile fibers are covered with zinc oxide nanowires (1,000 times thinner than a single human hair). Each fiber in a pair is plated with gold to provide an electrode. When they move, the fibers throw off small amounts of power due to piezoelectric and semiconducting properties of zinc oxide wires.

The technology is claimed to generate up to 80 milliwatts per square meter of fabric. Enough energy could be collected to power MP3 players, mobile phone and other devices if woven together into clothing. Unfortunately, the zinc oxide doesn’t hold up well when wet. Sorta scary to walk out in the rain…of course, until they find a protective solution for this.

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