You might switch to cotton clothing this summer to tackle the scorching heat of summer but scientists have plans to charge up your devices with the same turning your clothes into a source of power. Xiaodong Li along with Lihong Bao from University of South Carolina have been able to turn cotton into a highly conductive material. Dubbed as “super capacitor” the experiment was a result of hit and trial method where the scientists tried to get results just like someone trying to replicate a dish without knowing the chef’s ingredients and tricks of the trade.
What they did was dip the cotton sheet in a sodium fluoride solution for an hour, followed by drying it in a pre-heated oven for three hours, followed by heating it in even more hotter furnace for an hour. Surprisingly, cotton could still be folded after all this but what makes it conductive is the nano-layer of manganese oxide coated over the activated carbon. The researchers expressed the possibility in future that devices body might be made of stretchable, rollable cotton accompanying flexible, stretchable motherboards.
The challenge being whether or not such devices will be usable after rolling and unrolling them multiple times. The charge retention ability of “super capacitor” cannot be questioned though as the device was able to withhold 97.3 percent of charge after 1000 cycles. The manufacturing of such units is a low cost affair given to the cheap rates at which cotton can be bought. The process needs to be scaled up though to make it a commercially viable option.