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Ray Baughman
Ray Baughman
Director- NanoTech Institute
TT: You also talk about making these yarns part of a shirt and using the electricity to power breathing monitor. What is the electrolyte in this case? Nearly how much electricity is generated in this process which runs the monitor?

For harvesters that are woven or sewn into a textile, we use solid-state electrolytes (called gel electrolytes). In our preliminary investigation of the breathing sensor, the self-powered twistron was used to generate an output voltage that was recorded using an oscilloscope, but we did not measure the output power. This output power will increase with increase in the amount of twistron yarn that is sewn into the deformed region of the textile.

TT: Could you explain how this monitor functions? Is the monitor attached to the shirt and keeps functioning as long as the shirt is worn? Are the yarns sewn in some specific part of the shirt? And will there be no feeling of discomfort to the wearer when electricity is being generated in some part of the shirt? How electricity is passed on to the breathing monitor?

For the breathing monitor, the twistron harvester produces electricity when the twistron is stretched by breathing. Hence, the twistron sensor should be placed at a location on the garment where breathing causes textile stretch. No feeling of wearer discomfort will occur. For the demonstration reported in our Science paper, wires connected the harvesters to the monitor. However, we could have used the twistron harvester to power a wireless transmitter that sends data to a remote location. We mention in our Science paper just 31 milligram of CNT yarn harvester could provide the average power needed to transmit a 2-kB packet of data over a 100m radius every 10 s for the IoT.

TT: How significant is this development (of producing electricity through carbon nanotube yarns)? How does it help people?

Relevant for future impact on people-using our twistron harvesters to harvest the energy of the ocean to light cities and to power sensors that collect medical data and transmit it seem especially important.

TT: Do you see any significance for the fashion industry?

It might be possible in the future to use our twistron harvesters to light up clothing in attractive ways in response to body movements, without the use of a battery. While piezoelectrics in shoes can light up shoes, they cannot harvest meaningful energy to do the same thing when woven into clothing.

TT: What is the next step from here? Are you carrying out more experiments or talking of commercialisation?

We are continuing research and development with the goals of further improving twistron performance and using what we have discovered to make less expensive twistron harvesters.

Published on: 30/10/2017

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of


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