An international team of researchers from the US, China, and South Korea has created a special yarn, named Twistron, which can generate electricity when twisted or stretched. The team has already demonstrated its use in ocean-wave-based Power Generation and wearable fabrics. The yarn, when used within a shirt, was found to work efficiently as a breathing monitor that doesn’t need power from outside source. The team also believes that this high-tech yarn could also help in reducing fossil fuel use across the world.

Twistron is made up of carbon nanotubes

The idea behind the high-tech twistron yarn is simple. Na Li, a researcher at the University of Texas and the co-author of the study, says twistron has been created using carbon nanotubes that are spun into a thread. The nanotubes are spun in such a way that the stress within the internal structure of the thread is distributed evenly among the nanotubes. The diameter of carbon nanotubes is about 10,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair. To generate power from the yarn, it first needs to be inserted in an electrolyte solution (for example, hydrochloric acid + water). This allows the yarn to get electrically charged, and to be able to generate electricity.

Stretching the yarn results in a reduction in nanotubes volume, meaning a reduction in distance between charges. This decrease in distance increases the amount of energy within nanotubes, thus creating electricity in the yarn.

This yarn could be used in powering the Internet of Things sensors

The team claims that their yarn generated 250 watts/kg of peak electric power when stretched 100 times with a speed of 30 times/second.

This power output is higher than power produced by any other wearable fibers. Researchers have also demonstrated that it is possible to light a small LED using twistron yarn with weight less than the weight of a housefly. The team further states that the best application of these yarns lies with powering the Internet of Things sensors.

Currently, the raw material used to make carbon nanotubes is not very expensive, and prices are expected to drop down further, thus suggesting a potential for twistron in some economic applications.

The international team that worked on this project included researchers from Nankai University in China, Hanyang University in South Korea, and Virginia Tech in the US.

The detailed findings of the study have been published in the journal Science.