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Fashion design could get smarter

on Wednesday,February 17,2010 22:02

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Practicality could be the next trend to hit the fashion industry, as researchers are working fibers that could inspire electricity-producing clothing designs.

Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have created nanofibers that could convert the energy created by mechanical stress, stretches and twists into electricity.

These fibers are made of organic polyvinylidene fluoride, or PVDF, which makes them flexible and inexpensive to produce. Pending further research, these products could be woven into fabric and textiles to create "smart clothes."

Measuring approximately 500 nanometers in diameter, the fibers are approximately 100 times thinner than human hair.

Studies show that the strands can achieve average conversion efficiencies of 12.5 percent, which the researchers hope to improve. They added that smaller fibers tended to convert the energy into electricity more quickly than larger strands.

The engineers also noted that electrical outputs of individual fibers ranged between five and 30 millivolts.

Liwei Lin, head of the international research team, said that further investigation could lead to the development of fashions "that can power hand-held electronics through ordinary body movements."

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