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Use Your Shirt to Charge Your iPod?

by February 20, 2008
Recharge that iPod with your shirt!

Recharge that iPod with your shirt!

iPod or cell phone running low on juice? What if you could plug it into your shirt to recharge the batteries! According to a report on Reuters, scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a technology to allow a microfiber fabric to generate electricity. Enough to power a cell phone or MP3 player in fact. The act of walking or standing in a breeze would be enough to generate 80mW per square meter. Obviously, those of you with, um, larger builds will get more use out of this than the rest of us.

Calling it a "nano-based microgenerator" the shirt makes good use of zinc oxide nanowires, which ave semiconductive properties. These wires are 1000 times smaller than the width of a human hair and are embedded within the microfiber fabric in a sort of paired brush configuration, with the ends facing out from center. Since one fiber in each pair is coated with gold, it works as an electrode. The motion takes the mechanical energy and creates electricity.

The technology is fascinating, and the scientists actually found a way to cause the wires to "grow" onto the polymer-coated fibers. The process can be done with any conductive fiber. Additional steps provide protection and the gold coating which enables the electrode performance.

At this point the invention is being demonstrated as principle and no manufacturing techniques have been designed or realized. The mechanics are there, however they did find that zinc oxide degrades when wet (oops, can't wash this shirt!) With this in mind there are several hurdles before we can recharge small portable devices through mechanical-electrical conversion.

aberkowitz posts on February 20, 2008 10:16
There are bags that already exist that use solar power to do the same thing. A former business school professor of mine is on the Advisory Board of a company called Noon Solar which makes designer style satchels and totes that contain a solar panel which allows a user to charge a cell phone or an iPod. Last time I spoke with her they were working on laptop functionality as well.

Audioholics posts on February 20, 2008 10:09
No doubt - this sounds like an awesome technology. Being so awesome, however, it will likely never come to pass, lol.
Halon451 posts on February 20, 2008 09:10
I saw something on this a while back and I was intrigued, but a bit skeptical too. Sounds like it may indeed come to fruition though, if they can figure out a way to overcome the hurdles (can't wash the shirt?) If they do, plug me in!
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Clint Deboer was terminated from Audioholics for misconduct on April 4th, 2014. He no longer represents Audioholics in any fashion.

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