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Soft and flexible fabric generates electricity

Projects | November 1, 2018 | By:

Soft and flexible, electricity-generating fabric can power an LED, wireless signals and small electronics such as a pocket calculator or a digital watch. Photos: Johan Bodell, Chalmers University of Technology.

What if your favorite shirt could also power your digital watch? Researchers at Sweden’s Chalmers University of Technology have created a woven fabric that generates electricity when stretched or exposed to pressure. Working in cooperation with the Swedish School of Textiles in Borås and the research institute Swerea IVF, researchers Anja Lund and Christian Müller developed a fabric that converts kinetic energy into electric power. They used a technology based on the piezoelectric effect, which involves generating an electric charge in response to an applied mechanical stress,
such as stretching.

The researchers wove a piezoelectric yarn together with an electrically conducting yarn required to transport the generated electric current. The result is a yarn consisting of 24 fibers, each as thin as a strand of hair.

The textile generates more electricity as the load applied is greater or as it gets wetter. Lund and Müller demonstrated this effect using a piece of the textile in the shoulder strap of a bag. The more weight packed in the bag and the more of the bag that is made of the fabric, the more electric power generated. A bag loaded with 6-1/2 pounds of books can produce a continuous output of four microwatts.

The wear-resistant yarn can be produced into a textile at a relatively low cost using industrial looms. For more information, visit


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