Here is a question straight out of science fiction: can we charge our mobile phones from our T-shirt?
Li and postdoctoral researcher Lihong Bao have discovered ways to store electricity in cotton T-shirts, which can potentially lead to charging mobile phones and other electronic devices from our cloths (without getting electrocuted, of course!).
How did they do it? Oh, they just bought some T-shirts from the local discount store and dipped it in a fluoride solution, dried it, and 'baked' the cloths in high temperature in an oxygen-devoid environment, to prevent charring. This process led the fabric to transform from cellulose to Carbon, without affecting the flexibility of the material.
In case you want a more scientific explanation, here it is: “The surfaces of the resulting fibers in the fabric were shown by infrared spectroscopy to have been converted from cellulose to activated carbon. Yet the material retained flexibility; it could be folded without breaking.”
According to findings reported in the Advanced Materials Journal, the researchers proved that, by turning threads into electrodes, parts of the cloth could be turned into capacitors, used for storing electricity in practically every electronic gadget.
“The once-cotton material proved to be a repository for electricity. By using small swatches of the fabric as an electrode, the researchers showed that the flexible material, which Li's team terms ‘activated carbon textile’, acts as a capacitor,” notes a report on the research in USC ‘s website.
The researchers succeeded in 'recharging' parts of the cloths thousands of times, with storage capacity loss never exceeding five per cent.
According to Prof. Li, handy devises such as mobile phone can potentially be re-charged using such ‘carbon’ T-shirts. "We wear fabric every day," said the professor of mechanical engineering. "One day, our cotton T-shirts could have more functions; for example, a flexible energy storage device that could charge your cell phone or your iPad."
The industrial production of T-shirts capable of charging mobile devises may be some time away, but the new discovery could potentially mark a big leap in environment-friendly technologies.
According to Li, previous methods used oil or environmentally unfriendly chemicals as starting materials for charging devises. "Those processes are complicated and produce harmful side products. Our method is a very inexpensive, green process," he said.
|GOT A TIP? TELL US.||LIKE TO WRITE? contribute to TS.|
Write a blog about your startup, get 5 or more plugs and your startup will be featured here.
TigerStartups - Chicago, IL