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Fabric generates electricity from sunlight and motion

9/15/2016, Milan Šurkala
Researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a new type of fabric that is able to convert sunlight and various types of motion to electricity. That can be used to power small electronics and wearables.
The idea of generating electrical power from a fabric movement is not a new one but the researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology managed to improve the technology and their fabric is able to work with two different sources of energy. The fabric not only converts various types of motion like sliding, rotation or bending into electricity but, concurrently, it contains solar cells that are able to generate electricity from sunlight.
Fiber that generates electricity
Therefore, the energy can be harvested in windy days as well as in the sunny ones. Solar cells are made from lightweight polymer fibers. The mechanical part is provided by triboelectric nanogenerators which use a triboelectric effect and electrostatic induction to generate the power. The fabric can be used to create not only clothing but also tents, curtains and many others. It is also quite cheap to produce and environmentally friendly.
Fiber that generates electricity
In one experiment, the researchers created a small flag from this material. It was only 4×5 cm large and it was able to charge 2mF capacitor to 2 V in one minute when it was waving in the wind from the opened window of a driving car. The researchers plan to improve the durability of the material, namely its resistance to moisture. The generated electricity can power small electronics and wearables.