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Jan 25 2013

Future technology: Electric clothing with nanogenerators.

A one of the future technology is electric clothing. In this future technology, nanofibers could lead the electric clothing.  University of California, Berkeley,   a folk of researchers and engineers have created energy-scavenging nanofibers that could one day be woven into clothing and textiles.

These nano-sized generators, the future technology, have “piezoelectric” properties that allow them to convert into electricity the energy created through mechanical stress, stretches and twists.

“This future technology could eventually lead to wearable smart clothes that can power hand-held electronics through ordinary body movements,” said Liwei Lin, UC Berkeley professor of mechanical engineering and head of the international research team that developed the fiber nanogenerators.

Because the nanofibers are made from organic polyvinylidene fluoride, or PVDF, they are flexible and relatively easy and cheap to manufacture.

“And because the nanofibers are so small, we could weave them right into clothes with no perceptible change in comfort for the user,” said Lin, who is also co-director of the Berkeley Sensor and Actuator Center at UC Berkeley.

The goal of harvesting energy from mechanical movements through wearable nanogenerators a future technology, is not new. Other research teams have previously made nanogenerators out of inorganic semiconducting materials, such as zinc oxide or barium titanate. “Inorganic nanogenerators — in contrast to the organic nanogenerators we created — are more brittle and harder to grow in significant quantities,” Lin said.

The tiny nanogenerators, a future technology, which leads electric clothing, have diameters as small as 500 nanometers, or about 100 times thinner than a human hair and one-tenth the width of common cloth fibers. The researchers repeatedly tugged and tweaked the nanofibers, generating electrical outputs ranging from 5 to 30 millivolts and 0.5 to 3 nanoamps.

Lin’s team at UC Berkeley pioneered the near-field electrospinning technique used to create and position the polymeric nanogenerators 50 micrometers apart in a grid pattern. The technology enables greater control of the placement of the nanofibers onto a surface, allowing researchers to properly align the fiber nanogenerators, a future technology, so that positive and negative poles are on opposite ends, similar to the poles on a battery.

Without this control, the researchers explained, the negative and positive poles might cancel each other out and reducing energy efficiency.

“Surprisingly, the energy efficiency ratings of the nanofibers are much greater than the 0.5 to 4 percent achieved in typical power generators made from experimental piezoelectric PVDF thin films, and the 6.8 percent in nanogenerators made from zinc oxide fine wires,” said the study’s lead author, Chieh Chang.This electric clothing is considered one of the most important future technology.

 

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