A lightweight fabric can harvest both solar and mechanical energy to power electronic devices.

Credit: J. Chen et al./Nature Energy

Zhong Lin Wang at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Xing Fan at Chongqing University in China and their co-workers wove a fabric (pictured) using wool fibres and two types of polymer wire: a photovoltaic one and another that collects mechanical energy. The 320-micrometre-thick flexible fabric converted energy from both sunlight and movement, making enough electricity to charge a mobile phone or power a wristwatch.

Along with exploiting solar power, such a device could harvest energy from the motion of walking, the wind blowing or a moving car.

Nature Energy http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nenergy.2016.138 (2016)