Scientists are making valuable discoveries as global warming and new, sustainable forms of energy production become a looming concern. This recent discovery could have the potential to start capturing the energy of ocean waves, at a very large return.

Currently, a new fabric developed by a team of researchers could be used to power sensors and sensor communications, also a big part of understanding housing needs of the future.

An international team of researchers based at the University of Texas at Dallas and Hanyang University in South Korea has developed a new form of energy-harvesting yarn spun from carbon nanotubes. While hardly the first electricity-generating textile, it offers over 100 times the electrical power per weight compared to prior attempts at weavable fibers, according to the materials scientists behind the yarn.

The new material, dubbed "twistron" yarn, is described this week in the journal Science.

The basic high-level view is that this is yarn that can be stretched and deformed to produce electricity. Potential applications include wearable breathing sensors that harvest their own power; generators that harvest power from ocean waves or temperature fluctuations in artificial muscles; and self-powered Internet-of-Things communications infrastructure. The researchers note in a press release that just 31 milligrams of their now-patented twistron yarn could provide enough electricity to send 2 kilobytes of data 100 meters every 10 seconds.

The reason this works is carbon nanotubes. These are hollow cylinders of carbon that are about 10,000 times more thin than a human hair. They're interesting in large part because of their high electrical conductivity, which can be greater than even copper. What's more, this conductivity changes depending on a property known as chirality, which is basically how twisted the carbon nanotube is.

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