Scientists at the University of Texas at Dallas have discovered a way to create energy generating textiles from powder-infused carbon nanotubes. The nanotubes in use will be able to support superconducting particles, such as boron and magnesium powder, with a more manageable form without binders or lasers. If the scientists are successfully able to weave this energy-transmitting yarn into ready-to-wear material, you could soon bid adieu to all those jumbled up gadget chargers. Instead, this energy-transmitting yarn could be fashioned into lightweight batteries you can wear.
Powdered materials like boron and magnesium play a vital role in battery electrodes, superconducting wires, and even catalysts in fuel cells, but they are difficult to work with without complicated processes to bind their shape. By “growing” a web of nanotubes and then spraying it with the powder, any finely ground material can be turned into a “sewable, knittable, knotable, braidable yarn,” says Ray Baughman, director of the university’s Alan G. MacDiarmid NanoTech Institute. The powder, which can account for 95 to 99 percent of the yarn’s weight, is trapped inside the twists of the nanotube web. “When you wash it, almost all the powder is retained,” he adds.