, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 115-121
Date: 18 Aug 2010

Electrostatic power harvesting for material computing

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Abstract

We describe a novel wearable energy-harvesting system based on the phenomenon of contact electrification: when two materials are brought into contact and then separated, they are often found to be charged. By patterning circuits out of textiles with specific electronic properties, we can collect and channel these transferred charges to power-harvesting circuitry. As a demonstration of this principle, we have designed and built a garment to display the wearer’s ongoing level of physical activity by powering strings of LEDs using only the energy generated in the garment’s motion. Finally, the methods we describe are not limited to textiles but are applicable to material computing in general.