US scientists develop yarns that generate electricity
Scientists from the University of Texas at Dallas and the Hanyang University in South Korea have developed high-tech yarns that generate electricity when stretched or twisted.
Scientists from the University of Texas at Dallas and the Hanyang University in South Korea have developed high-tech yarns that generate electricity when stretched or twisted. Researchers describe â€œtwistronâ€ yarns and their possible applications, such as harvesting energy from the motion of ocean waves or from temperature fluctuations in the journal Science. When sewn into a shirt, these yarns served as a self-powered breathing monitor.
â€œThe easiest way to think of twistron harvesters is, you have a piece of yarn, you stretch it, and out comes electricity,â€ said Dr Carter Haines, associate research professor in the Alan G MacDiarmid NanoTech Institute at UT Dallas and co-lead author of the article. The article also includes researchers from South Korea, Virginia Tech, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and China.
The yarns are constructed from carbon nanotubes, which are hollow cylinders of carbon 10,000 times smaller in diameter than a human hair. The researchers first twist-spun the nanotubes into high-strength, lightweight yarns. To make the yarns highly elastic, they introduced so much twist that the yarns coiled like an over-twisted rubber band.
In order to generate electricity, the yarns must be either submerged in or coated with an ionically conducting material, or electrolyte, which can be as simple as a mixture of ordinary table salt and water.