We've all been in a position where our phone runs out of battery, but we don't have anywhere to charge it. Well, what if the clothing you were wearing could help you out? It's an option that isn't as outlandish as you might think, thanks to work by researchers at Nottingham Trent University.
Dr. Theodore Hughes-Riley, Associate Professor of Electronic Textiles at the Nottingham School of Art and Design, led research that has resulted in the development of an innovative e-textile that's embedded with 1,200 photovoltaic cells. The cells combined together are capable of harnessing 400 milliwatts (mWatts) of electrical energy from the sun. It's enough to charge a basic mobile phone or smartwatch.
The e-textile, which is breathable and flexible, could be incorporated into clothing and accessories ensuring that you'll never be without a charge again. The e-textile behaves just like any other piece of fabric and can handle washing at 40°C (104°F). This is possible thanks to the waterproof polymer resin that wraps the 5 by 1.5 mm photovoltaic cells.
“This prototype gives an exciting glimpse of the future potential for e-textiles,” shared Dr. Hughes-Riley. “Until now very few people would have considered that their clothing or textiles products could be used for generating electricity.” He continues, “Electronic textiles really have the potential to change people’s relationship with technology, as this prototype shows how we could do away with charging many devices at the wall. This is an exciting development which builds on previous technologies we have made and illustrates how it can be scaled up to generate more power.”
The early e-textile is pushing the boundaries of what's possible. Standing at the forefront of sustainability, it is reshaping the way we think about technology.
Researchers in the UK have created an e-textile with 1,200 photovoltaic cells.
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