Twistron - A Smart Yarn that Can Produce Electricity Using Carbon Nanotubes


A revolutionary nanotechnology has already made science enthusiasts go berserk, smart yarn that can generate electricity.

Scientists have developed high-tech “twistron” yarns that generate electricity when stretched or twisted, an advancement that may lead to nanotech gadgets and even the elimination of alkaline/non-alkaline batteries in the near future. The yarns are versatile in nature and can be modified as per the users’ needs.

What are the Carbon Nanotubes and How they produce Electricity?

They are composed from carbon nanotubes, which are hollow cylinders of carbon 10,000 times smaller in diameter than a human hair. The researchers first twist-spun the nanotubes into high-strength, lightweight yarns. To generate electricity, the yarns must be either submerged in or coated with an ionically conducting material, or electrolyte, which could be a mixture of ordinary table salt and water [or sea water]. Supposedly these yarns can be termed as supercapacitors, as is the case of a normal capacitor, we use energy from a battery to add charges to the capacitor. But in this case, inserting the twistron into an electrolyte bath, the yarns are charged by the electrolyte itself. There is no need for an external battery or voltage is needed, as per researchers. When a twistron is twisted or stretched, the volume of the carbon nanotube yarn decreases, bringing electric charges closer together and increasing their energy.

This increases the voltage associated with the charge stored in the yarn, enabling the harvesting of electricity.

As we all know that harvesting electricity requires a voltage difference to occur, necessary factors in the phenomenon.

Researchers demonstrated that a twistron yarn weighing less than a housefly could power a small LED, which lit up each time the yarn was stretched.

Other Uses of Twistron Carbon Nanotubes

For solid proof that twistrons can harvest waste thermal energy from the environment, a twistron yarn was connected to a polymer artificial muscle that contracts and expands when heated and cooled. The twistron harvester converted the mechanical energy generated by the polymer muscle to electrical energy. There is a lot of scope in using this nanotechnology to power everyday gadgets that can be worn by the user. A wonderful innovation would be for the NAVY, who could use these twistrons in their clothing gear to power up their equipment.

What do you think?