Now, jeans and T-shirt to charge cell phones
Stanford University researchers have been trying to find out a way to charge cellphone batteries with the help of electronic textiles. They have managed to convert regular cotton and polyester into electronic textile which can make jeans and T-shirt that can charge cellphones. The technology is also one of the first steps to a new category of devices with flexible screens that are worked into clothes, according to Electronista.
In earlier experiments, Stanford scientists used what could be called ink, made up of single-walled carbon nanotubes, which are electrically conductive carbon fibers less than 1/50,000th the thickness of a human hair. So far, electronic devices have been patched onto existing fabric rather than engineered and embedded into the material.
This coating allows the fibers to conduct electricity, turning them into porous conductors. With a large surface area, a large amount of energy can be stored. At the same time, the charged clothing can theoretically withstand as many as one million full recharge cycles. The textiles also retain flexibility and stretchability of regular cotton and polyester, and retain their electronic properties even after being laundered multiple times.
Now, researchers are looking to replacing carbon nanotubes with graphene, due to its lower costs. They will also attempt to combine their technology with other materials to turn clothes into solar cells combined with batteries. It's not known how soon the techniques could translate to actual products, but they could impact the longevity of handheld devices in the near future.