Cloth That Charges Your Phone, Smartwatch? UK Scientists Create Wearable 'E-Textile' With 1,200 Mini Solar Panels


Nottingham Trent University researchers have embedded a woven textile with 1200 miniature solar panels.  

What Happened: Dr. Theodore Hughes-Riley, associate professor of Electronic Textiles at the Nottingham School of Art & Design, and his team has ingrained a woven textile with more than a thousand solar cells. These tiny cells can jointly harness 400 milliwatts (mWatts) of solar electrical energy – enough to charge a basic mobile phone or smartwatch.  

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This ‘e-textile’ material is breathable and chemically stable, as all solar cells are made from silicon. The solar cells are embedded in a waterproof polymer resin, so the wearer won’t feel a thing. It is an advanced prototype that could be incorporated into any clothing, like a jacket. The material can be “scrunched up and washed in a machine” like regular laundry. 

The test showed that the e-textile generated a power output of 335.3 mWatts in 0.86 sunlight. 

Why It’s Important: Dr. Riley pointed out that only a handful of people would have considered their clothing or textile products for generating electricity. 

Matholo Kgatuke, a research associate in the Weaving of Electronic Textiles, said, “This project shows how e-textiles can be at the forefront of sustainability and that they have the potential to reshape our existing conceptions of technology.”

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