According to the researchers working at the Georgia Institute of Technology, the groundbreaking clothing employs two layers of textile fibers covered with micro-wires made of zinc oxide, which generate electricity as they are rubbed together.
"The two fibers scrub together just like two bottle brushes with their bristles touching, and the piezoelectric-semiconductor process converts the mechanical motion into electrical energy," stated Zhong Lin Wang, a Regents professor in the School of Materials Science and Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology in a press release. "Many of these devices could be put together to produce higher power output."
Imagine keeping you cell phone constantly recharged just by carrying it in your pocket. In military applications, soldiers wearing the new material would be able to power their growing array of personal battlefield support electronics without being weighted down with battery packs.
Not So Fast: There's just one not-so-little roadblock ahead. Zinc oxide is water-sensitive, so the power-producing clothing works, until it is washed. The researchers agree this is a problem, and they are working on it.