Welcome to Unbox’s “Viral Fridays” where we feature weirder than usual tech and geek related news to cap out the week.
Here’s an interesting breakthrough in the field of “smart energy” development. Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology have created a fabric that utilizes the renewable force of the sun and the wind to power devices.
While fabrics powered by physical movement and solar energy have been in the works for years now, it’s only recently that scientists have combined both properties in one special fabric.
“This hybrid power textile presents a novel solution to charging devices in the field from something as simple as the wind blowing on a sunny day,” said Zhong Lin Wang, a Regents professor in the Georgia Tech School of Materials Science and Engineering.
To manufacture the textile, Wang and his team used a commercial textile machine to weave together “solar cells constructed from lightweight polymer fibers with fiber-based triboelectric nanogenerators.” Technical stuff there, folks.
“The fabric is highly flexible, breathable, lightweight and adaptable to a range of uses,” Wang noted. “The backbone of the textile is made of commonly-used polymer materials that are inexpensive to make and environmentally friendly. The electrodes are also made through a low-cost process, which makes it possible to use large-scale manufacturing,” the GIT scientist added.
Early trial runs with the fabric have indicated that it’s durable enough to withstand repeated and rigorous use. The next steps in Wang’s research are to verify the textile’s long-term durability, optimization for industry applications, and proper weatherproofing solutions.
We at Unbox can already see the applications of this technology in the upcoming smart wearables of the future. Even smartphones, tablets and laptops can benefit from this technology. Exciting times ahead!