Scientists at the University of Texas at Dallas are engaged in developing an innovative product. To be precise, they are spinning yarn out of powder-infused carbon nanotubes. These may help in creating textiles that can power the electronic mobile gadgets.
The nanotubes give superconducting particles, such as boron and magnesium powder, a more manageable form without binders or lasers. Thus the scientists hope to weave this energy-transmitting yarn into lightweight batteries that could be worn.
Ray Baughman, director of the university’s Alan G. MacDiarmid NanoTech Institute, has been quoted as saying that 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.
The powder accounts for 95 to 99 percent of the yarn’s weight. It is trapped inside the twists of the nanotube web. Hence, the power is retained even after washing the product.
At the same time, the researchers at Rice University are making carbon-nanotube fibers that are very dense and conductive. These fibers may someday be used in low-loss electrical-transmission cables or in super-strong structural materials.
A lab at Stanford University is developing textile-based energy-storage devices. Thus, the brains at University of Texas are not the only ones striving to make the concept of wearable batteries into reality.