Two-In-One Wires Could Turn Clothes Into Batteries

The wires are able to conduct and store electricity at the same time.

A team of materials scientists has created a copper wire that’s able to store electricity as well as transmit it. Two in one! It’s like the shampoo/conditioner of the electronics world. Above, you can see the wire lighting an LED using stored electricity, wohoo.

In the future, wires like this could take the place of batteries, making battery-run devices smaller and battery-run cars lighter and roomier. Energy-storing wires could also go into fabrics, for jackets that act as emergency chargers for your cellphone, or that are devices themselves.

To make the wire, a team from the University of Central Florida basically wrapped a regular, conducting copper wire in a supercapacitor. The wrapping stores electricity while the wire core conducts it. The supercapacitor wrapping contains two layers of nano-fibers that stick straight out from the surface of the wire, like bristles on a brush. The fibers increase the surface area of the wire by 100 times, which is important for energy storage, Drexel University nanotechnology researcher Yury Gogotsi, who was not involved in the research, wrote in a comment in the journal Nature.

Although these wires are still just lab prototypes, some of their qualities already make them promising for real-world applications, Gogotsi writes. The wires did well in tests in which its makers bent them and charged and discharged them 5,000 times. That means they’re pretty stable upon bending and repeated use. Before such a wire can go into real-world products, its creators must work on making the supercapacitor layer store more electricity, Gogotsi writes.

The wire's creators, led by nanotechnology scientist Jayan Thomas, will publish their work in the journal Advanced Materials.