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New Fiber Nanogenerators Could Lead to Electric Clothing

By ­C Berkeley News

February 17, 2010

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University of California, Berkeley researchers have created energy-scavenging nanofibers that can be woven into clothing and textiles. The nano-sized generators have piezoelectric properties, which enables them to use mechanical stress, stretches, and twists to create electricity. "This technology could eventually lead to wearable smart clothes that can power handheld electronics through ordinary body movements," says Berkeley professor Liwei Lin.

The nanofibers are flexible and inexpensive because they are made from organic polyvinylidene fluoride. The researchers believe the nanofibers could be woven into clothing with no perceptible change in comfort to the user. The nanogenerators can be as small as 500 nanometers in diameter, about one-tenth the width of common cloth fibers.

During testing, the researchers tugged and tweaked the nanofibers and generated electrical outputs ranging from five to 30 millivolts and from 0.5 to three nanoamps. The researchers demonstrated average energy conversion efficiencies of 12.5 percent, with some going as high as 21.8 percent.

From UC Berkeley News
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