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Textile Energy Storage

A textile energy storage device has been designed by Zhong Lin Wang at Georgia Institute of Technology and Jong Min Kim of Samsung Electronics in South Korea. The prototype systematic fiber-based electrochemical micro-supercapacitor is composed of flexible electrode, fine plastic wire and fiber electrode made of Kevlar.


(Prototype for a high-efficiency fiber-based electrochemical micro-supercapacitor)

The research team has now developed a prototype for a high-efficiency fiber-based electrochemical micro-supercapacitor that uses zinc oxide nanowires as electrodes. The substrate for one of the electrode is a flexible, fine plastic wire; for the other electrode it is a fiber made of Kevlar. Kevlar is the material used to make bulletproof vests. The researchers were able to grow zinc oxide nanowires on each of these substrates. Additional coatings with materials like gold and manganese oxide could further improve the charge capacitance. Using tweezers, the researchers then wrapped each of the plastic wires with a Kevlar fiber. This assembly was then embedded in a solid gel electrolyte that separates the two electrodes and allows for the necessary charge transport. A bundle of these fibers could be processed to form a thread.

A particularly intriguing application would be the use of these new charge-storage media in combination with flexible fiber nanogenerators, which Wang and his team have previously developed. The wearer’s heartbeat and steps, or even a light wind, would be enough to move the piezoelectric zinc oxide nanowires in the fibers, generating electrical current.

Fans of science fiction been looking for something like this for a long time, because how else will you power your heartshirt from Rudy Ruckers 1988 novel Wetware and the sleeve communicator from Murray Leinster's 1945 short story First Contact?

Via PhysOrg.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 1/23/2011)

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