Nanowires will Help in Making a Power Dress
Recently, scientists in the US have developed novel brush-like fibers that generate electrical energy from movement. Soon "Power dressing" may have a very different and literal meaning.
Weaving them into a material could allow designers to create "smart" clothes which harness body movement to power portable electronic gadgets. These materials could also be used in tents or other structures to harness wind energy. The basic goal is to make self-powered nanotechnology.
Mechanical energy like airflow or vibrations can harvest to power devices and as the market for wearable electronics expands technologies such as the Nano-fibers would become increasingly attractive.
All new power source which could provide a more integrated and soft solution in place of conventional hard battery technology would be very attractive for clothing or other electronic textile-based applications.
Application in Medical Field
This technology could be used to power tiny medical devices like a true cochlear implant or heart pacemaker or a delivery mechanism for subcutaneous drug delivery implants or antibiotic drug reservoirs for preventing infection in retinal implants.
Nano-generators consist of pairs of fibres that look similar to tiny and bendable bottle-brushes. These tiny wires are 30-50 Nano-metres (billionths of a metre) in length and is made of zinc oxide and are grown in solution. Bristled fibers are also dipped in gold to act as an electrode, when the pair is scrubbed together they create a small amount of electrical energy.
Conversion of Energy:
These fibers have a piezoelectric effect which is an important effect that converts mechanical energy to electricity. The experiments with the prototypes showed that two 1cm-long fibres could generate a current of four nano-amperes and an output voltage of about four Milli-volts and if scientist can optimize the design we can get up to 80 milli-watts per square meter of fabric - that could potentially power an iPod.
To generate power for personal electronics using the clothing we wear would be a breakthrough in smart and interactive garments. Such fibres are the latest development in the field of "energy harvesting" which seeks to develop methods to recover otherwise-wasted energy and convert it into useful electrical energy.
The cost and ease of manufacture would also be important, but scientist believes the research shows promise. Possibility of developing piezoelectric or energy generating fibers or fabrics has been something that the smart fabrics research community has been speculating about for some time.