Smart fabric that harvest and store energy

Luftkuss Atelier

Imagine watching TV on your curtains, charging your phone with your carpet and harvesting energy with your t-shirt. These all could soon be reality thanks to an innovative textile developed by University of Cambridge researchers.

The research team developed a smart fabric that can harvest energy as well as support electronic functions and smart sensors. The team envisions the fabric could be used to make curtains that also function as TVs, energy-harvesting rugs, and interactive, self-energizing clothing. The innovation paves the way for an entirely new system and class of smart devices where everyday objects of all kinds can be turned into smart gadgets.

Similar inventions exist, but the scientists state that this is the first to integrate what can be produced with typical textile industrial processes. Other smart textiles can only operate electronically when cut into smaller sizes. They also require a different process from the production process of ordinary fabrics. In this version, it is also possible to embed functions directly into textile threads.

“Our approach is built on the convergence of micro and nanotechnology, advanced displays, sensors, energy and technical textile manufacturing,” said Professor Jong min Kim, from Cambridge’s Department of Engineering. “This is a step towards the full exploitation of sustainable, convenient e-fibres and e-textiles in daily applications. And it’s only the beginning.”

“By integrating fibre-based electronics, photonic, sensing and energy functionalities, we can achieve a whole new class of smart devices and systems,” said Occhipinti, also from Cambridge’s Department of Engineering. “By unleashing the full potential of textile manufacturing, we could soon see smart and energy-autonomous Internet of Things devices that are seamlessly integrated into everyday objects and many other sector applications.”

The resulting fabric can work as a screen, monitoring various inputs or storing energy for later use. The team states that the fabric can detect radio frequency signals, touch, light and temperature. In addition, they can be stored in rolls just like ordinary fabrics. The team plans to turn this fabric into flexible batteries, supercapacitors, solar panels and more.

You can reach the scientific article here.

Insprad Creative Agency

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