TECH

This Fabric Could Charge Your Gadgets

14/04/2015 11:13 BST | Updated 14/04/2015 11:59 BST

Scientists in South Korea have developed a fabric that can generate static electricity and then harnesses it as energy, powering a range of wearable technologies.

The smart fabric was created by a team of material scientists at Sungkyunkwan University in South Korea. The team believe this new method of energy generation could be the turning point in creating 'smart clothing'.

smart fabric

The energy is created by having two fabrics; one consisting of silver-coated fibres, the other containing zinx oxide nanorods coated with polydimethylsiloxane.

When they rub together they create something called the triboelectric effect, seen most commonly when you rub a balloon on someone's hair. This is the movement of electrons from one surface to another, creating a positive charge on one side and a negative charge on the other.

As the materials are pushed together and then pulled apart this generates a tiny electric current which can then be collected, used or even stored in a wearable battery.

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At present the team see the technology being used to turn clothes into car remotes, however there's no reason why it can't be used in the next-generation of sports clothing - powering tiny wearable motion sensors which could then relay information to a smartphone or smart watch.