Scientists at the University of South Carolina have found a way to use a cheap T-shirt to store electrical power, which could pave the way for clothes that are able to charge phones and other devices.
Scientists at the University of South Carolina have found a way to use a cheap T-shirt to store electrical power, which could pave the way for clothes that are able to charge phones and other devices. Experts predict that new technologies including roll-up smart phones and laptops will be on the market soon. Xiaodong Li, the professor behind the project said that these developments would spur on the need for “flexible energy storage. Li, a professor of mechanical engineering at the university teamed up with post-doctorate researcher Lihong Bao to find a solution. They used a T-shirt bought from a local discount store, which was soaked in a solution of fluoride, dried and then baked in an oxygen-free environment at high temperature. The fibres in the fabric converted from cellulose to activated carbon during the
By using small parts of the fabric as an electrode, the researchers showed that the material could be made to act as a capacitor. Capacitors store an electrical charge and are components of nearly every electronic device on the market. By coating the individual fibres of the carbonised fabric with manganese oxide just a nanometre thick, the electrode performance of the fabric was further enhanced. “This created a stable, high-performing supercapacitor,” the BBC quoted Prof Li as saying. The hybrid supercapacitors proved resilient – even after thousands of charge-discharge cycles their performance did not diminish more than 5 percent, the researchers said. “By stacking these supercapacitors up, we should be able to charge portable electronic devices such as cell phones. “We wear fabric every day. One day our cotton T-shirts could have more functions; for example, a flexible energy storage device that could charge your cell phone or your iPad,” Prof Li added. The findings were published in the Advanced Materials journal.