We've heard of electrically-conductive thread before. But a team of materials scientists have done that invention one better, by developing yarn that can generate electricity.
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The research team, which comes from a collaboration between the University of Texas at Dallas and South Korea's Hanyang University, calls their invention Twistron. It's essentially yarn made from twist-spun carbon nanotubes that are coated with an electrolyte, "which can be as simple as a mixture of ordinary table salt and water," says a U.T. Dallas newsletter. Then, says associate research professor Dr. Carter Haines, "you have a piece of yarn, you stretch it, and out comes electricity."
"No external battery, or voltage, is needed," adds Dr. Na Li, a research scientist at the NanoTech Institute and co-lead author of the study. Here's how it works:
The idea of technology-embedded clothing has been floated for a while, but Twistron raises the intriguing possibility that wearables or clothing could actually be used to generate power. This would also make me feel better about gaining weight, as when my T-shirts stretch in ways they didn't used to, I could make the case that my beer gut is helping to save the environment.