An electrifying advance toward tomorrow's power suits

Jan 20, 2010
Fabrics treated with this new electrically-conductive ink may power a new generation of futuristic clothing that charges iPods, cell phones and other electronics. Credit: American Chemical Society

Could powering an iPod or cell phone become as easy as plugging it into your tee shirt or jeans, and then recharging the clothing overnight? Scientists in California are reporting an advance in that direction with an easier way of changing ordinary cotton and polyester into "conductive energy textiles" -- e-Textiles that double as a rechargeable battery. Their report on the research appears in ACS' Nano Letters.

"Wearable electronics represent a developing new class of materials with an array of novel functionalities, such as flexibility, stretchability, and lightweight, which allow for many applications and designs previously impossible with traditional electronics technology," Yi Cui and colleagues note. "High-performance sportswear, wearable displays, new classes of portable power, and embedded health monitoring systems are examples of these novel applications."

The report describes a new process for making E-textiles that uses "ink" made from single-walled carbon nanotubes — electrically conductive carbon fibers barely 1/50,000 the width of a human hair. When applied to cotton and polyester fabrics, the ink produced e-Textiles with an excellent ability to store . The fabrics retained flexibility and stretchability of regular cotton and polyester, and kept their new e-properties under conditions that simulated repeated laundering.

Explore further: A new way to make microstructured surfaces

More information: "Stretchable, Porous, and Conductive Energy Textiles",

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not rated yet Jan 21, 2010
A good next step would be to add a layer that can convert the stretching/moving of the clothing into charge.
5 / 5 (2) Jan 21, 2010
A good next step would be to add a layer that can convert the stretching/moving of the clothing into charge.

I already have a sweater that does that quite well.
not rated yet Jan 21, 2010
plugging your ipod into your clothes, and then plugging your clothes in to charge overnight.

hows that any different than just plugging in your ipod to charge overnight
not rated yet Jan 22, 2010
Will the insides be lined with rubber to keep us from getting electrocuted? It seems pretty dangerous to wrap our bodies in a battery... plus, will this lead to a new generation of people that wear the exact same clothes every single day? Reflecting on my time at college, these people should be excluded from society
not rated yet Jan 22, 2010
Forgive me, but aren't carbon nanotubes carcinogenic? They penetrate cell walls easily, they are not quick to decompose. Structurally, they ought to behave A LOT like asbestos fibers. So do we REALLY want to soak clothes in this stuff, and WEAR them: so that the entire surface of skin is exposed by direct, repeated, mechanical contact?

not rated yet Jan 23, 2010
So do we REALLY want to soak clothes in this stuff, and WEAR them
Of course not, this research is a nonsense with respect to perspective provided.