Tired of your smartphone running out of battery when it’s impossible to charge it? With the help of a new invention, you might be able to recharge your phone by simply sitting on it.
Researchers of Wake Forest’s Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Material have created a new thermoelectric fabric they call Power Felt. This new material works by using temperature differences – like between the temperature outside and the heat generated by your body – to create an electric charge.
The possibilities are endless. A hypothetical pair of Power Felt pants would be made of tiny carbon nanotubes locked up in flexible plastic fibers. But the fabric could also be used for heat-capturing jackets, coverings for cars, housing insulation and a myriad of other practical applications. “Ideally we would like to make power generation and advanced wearable item, with usable power for pacemakers, sensors for neuromuscular disease, and the elderly,” revealed Professor David Carroll.
The thermoelectric effect is not something new, but its development is hampered by the high costs that can run up to $1,000 per kilogram. The researchers hope to drastically bring down the prices with their new design, so people will only pay $1 extra for a cellphone case covered with the Power Felt fabric.
Hewitt, C., Kaiser, A., Roth, S., Craps, M., Czerw, R., & Carroll, D. (2012). Multilayered Carbon Nanotube/Polymer Composite Based Thermoelectric Fabrics Nano Letters DOI: 10.1021/nl203806q