A team from Wake Forest University’s Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials has created a new thermoelectric fabric they call Power Felt. It’s constructed of “tiny carbon nanotubes locked up in flexible plastic fibers,” though the final product looks and feels like fabric, and creates and electrical charge from changes in temperature–like, say, touching it with your hot finger, or sitting on it with your hot butt (hot in this case referring to temperature and thus wholly inoffensive science).
Thermoelectrics isn’t a new field, but it’s mostly been hampered by expensive materials that can cost up to $1,000 per kilogram. But Corey Hewitt, a graduate student at Wake Forest and member of the Power Felt team, says the new design could drastically bring down the price. For something small, like a cellphone case, the addition of Power Felt could cost as little as a dollar extra. And there are all kinds of possible applications, from apparel to car seats.