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Brief Published: 21 Oct 2014

Atom-Thin Electricity Generator

This ultra-thin material could power wearable tech with body movement

Scientists have tested the world's thinnest electricity-generating material, which could eventually be woven into clothing and power wearable devices.

Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology and Columbia Engineering in the US say the material could form the basis of optically transparent devices that are very light, bendable and stretchable.

The material is made from a layer of molybdenum disulphide, which is only one atom thick. It is the first two-dimensional material to display piezoelectricity – the ability to generate voltage when compressed or stretched.

James Hone, who co-led the research, said: "This material... could be made as a wearable device, perhaps integrated into clothing to convert energy from your body movement to electricity, power wearable sensors or medical devices, or perhaps supply enough energy to charge your cell phone in your pocket."

The material could also have a number of applications in human-machine interfacing, robotics, microscopic machines and active flexible electronics.

For more on the scientific advances driving new developments in wearables, see Sonic Charging and Ultra-Thin, Flexible Batteries. For more on wearable innovations, see our Personal Electronics report from IFA 2014.