Nanogenerators Promise 'Power Suits' of the Future

In the seemingly never ending quest to improve our personal electronics experience our clothes can now be used to power our gadgets

1 min read
Nanogenerators Promise 'Power Suits' of the Future

I am always a little amazed at the length we are willing to go to improve our personal electronics. Whenever I see the latest nanotech research that will improve our gadgets I'm reminded of Nokia’s and Cambridge University’s demonstration of plastic electronics that proposed a flexible mobile phone. I could never quite get my head around why we would want a mobile phone that you could bend when what we really want is a phone in which the battery doesn’t run out after a few hours.

In the latest research along the lines of improving our personal electronics experience an international research team led by Professor Liwei Lin at the University of California Berkeley has developed nanofibers that possess piezoelectric properties and can be woven into the textiles of clothing. The idea is that as you move about the bending and stretching will be cause the piezoelectric to generate electricity that can be used to power your personal electronics.

While other research teams have made this type of generator on the nanoscale, they did so with inorganic materials that were brittle and easy to break. The Berkeley team made the fibers with an organic material that are not only more flexible than their inorganic cousins but easier to produce in significant quantities.

While the article I reference above describing the research mentions powering hand-held electronics, I suppose it’s possible that ski jackets with MP3 players already built in will find this new energy source a nice alternative.

Despite this I am still a little confused as to why I would want this, but sometimes these decisions are based less on practicality and more on ineffable qualities such as “fashion”.

The Conversation (0)

The Transistor of 2047: Expert Predictions

What will the device be like on its 100th anniversary?

4 min read
Six men and a woman smiling.

The luminaries who dared predict the future of the transistor for IEEE Spectrum include: [clockwise from left] Gabriel Loh, Sri Samavedam, Sayeef Salahuddin, Richard Schultz, Suman Datta, Tsu-Jae King Liu, and H.-S. Philip Wong.

Gluekit
LightGreen

The 100th anniversary of the invention of the transistor will happen in 2047. What will transistors be like then? Will they even be the critical computing element they are today? IEEE Spectrum asked experts from around the world for their predictions.

Keep Reading ↓Show less