Scientists at the University of South Carolina found a way to store electrical power in fabric. Mechanical engineering professor Xiaodong Li and researcher Lihong Bao soaked a T-shirt in a fluoride solution, dried it and then baked it in an oxygen-free environment at a high temperature.
"We wear fabric every day,” Li said, reported the BBC. “One day our cotton T-shirts could have more functions; for example, a flexible energy storage device that could charge your cellphone or your iPad."
The baking process converted the shirt’s cotton fibers from cellulose to activated carbon, but the fabric remained flexible. By coating the individual fibers of the carbonized fabric with manganese oxide, the fabric was made into “a stable, high-performing supercapacitor,” Li said. After thousands of charge-discharge cycles, the fabric’s capacitive performance was found to decrease less than 5 percent.