Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology in the U.S. and the Beijing Institute of Nanoenergy and Nanosystems in China have made the first hybrid self-charging power textile system that can harvest both solar energy and the mechanical energy from a person’s movements. These energies can then be stored as chemical energy in fiber-shaped supercapacitors. The system can be woven into textiles for making smart clothes that power mobile and wearable electronics.
Wearable electronics available now are limited by the lifespan of their batteries. “One way to overcome this problem is to directly integrate a conventional rechargeable-energy storage device, such as a battery or supercapacitor, into fabrics, team-leader Zhong Lin Wang told nanotechweb.org. “However, such a self-powered system needs an efficient energy harvester and devices used in the past were strongly dependent on weather and working conditions.”
The first component in the device harvests solar energy from ambient light and the second the mechanical energy created by a person’s normal, everyday movement. Both of these energies can be converted into electricity in fiber-shaped dye-sensitized solar cells (F-DSSCs) and fiber-shaped triboelectric nanogenerators (F-TENGs). The combined energy is stored as chemical energy in a third component: fiber-shaped supercapacitors (F-SCs).
The electricity generated by TENGs could replace or supplement batteries for a range of potential applications, and the technology is now capable of powering nanoelectronics devices.