Everyone wants smart clothes, but no one wants to wear a battery pack. Truly a first-world problem. But that doesn’t mean a solution can’t be interesting. Researchers at the University of Texas, Dallas have created a power-generating yarn from woven carbon nanotubes, and given it an amazing name: twistron.

Of course, there are plenty of piezoelectric materials out there that generate power when stretched or compressed. But this twistron yarn is strong, flexible and acts as a supercapacitor to boot. The ultra-thin carbon nanotubes that compose them are twisted and coiled to provide the stretch, conductivity and other desirable qualities.

“Electronic textiles are of major commercial interest, but how are you going to power them?” asked Ray Baughman, head UT Dallas’s NanoTech Institute, in a news release. “Harvesting electrical energy from human motion is one strategy for eliminating the need for batteries. Our yarns produced over a hundred times higher electrical power per weight when stretched compared to other weavable fibers reported in the literature.”
It’s not a lot — fractions of a watt per milligram of the stuff — but power requirements are low for embedded tech. So what’s the catch?  Read More…..