Fabrics Get A Flexible Charge With Nanotubes

Fabrics Get A Flexible Charge With Nanotubes

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Sarah Rae Smith
Jan 25, 2010

Once in awhile, a technological advancement comes along that has the ability to completely change the way we think about the world around us.

Can you imagine sitting on the couch and having your laptop charge wirelessly? Or having your favorite rug power the lamp or stereo system that sits on top of it? The future is here with new carbon nanotubes.

Aside from having a super-cool name like, "carbon nanotubes," which sounds as space-age as the product it represents — carbon nanotubes just became your new best friend. Sure they won't be there to get your drunk texting at 3am, but they will pave the way to make your wireless and fully charged world a reality.

The basic idea came from an idea created last year where paper was dipped into an "ink" made up of tiny tubes of carbon.

BBC news has this to report on this super cool idea:

Now, Yi Cui and his team at Stanford University in the US has shown that their "ink" made of carbon nanotubes - cylinders of carbon just billionths of a metre across - can serve as a dye that can simply and cheaply turn a t-shirt into an "e-shirt".

The idea is the same as that outlined in their work with plain paper; the interwoven fibres of fabrics, like those of paper, are particularly suited to absorbing the nanotube ink, maintaining an electrical connection across the whole area of a garment. Cloth is simply dipped into a batch of nanotube dye, and is then pressed, to thin and even out the coating.

By creating flexible fabric that has the ability to host an electrical connection we're not only one step away from our sweaters banding together to form a rebellious army, but to making more efficient use of our electronic purchases and how we interact with them in daily life.

How would you like to see the idea utilized? From having your coat run your MP3 player to your lampshade power the bulb inside it — the possibilities seem endless.

(via: BBC News)
(Image: Nano Letters)

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