Micro-cable structured textile for simultaneously harvesting solar and mechanical energy


Developing lightweight, flexible, foldable and sustainable power sources with simple transport and storage remains a challenge and an urgent need for the advancement of next-generation wearable electronics. Here, we report a micro-cable power textile for simultaneously harvesting energy from ambient sunshine and mechanical movement. Solar cells fabricated from lightweight polymer fibres into micro cables are then woven via a shuttle-flying process with fibre-based triboelectric nanogenerators to create a smart fabric. A single layer of such fabric is 320 μm thick and can be integrated into various cloths, curtains, tents and so on. This hybrid power textile, fabricated with a size of 4 cm by 5 cm, was demonstrated to charge a 2 mF commercial capacitor up to 2 V in 1 min under ambient sunlight in the presence of mechanical excitation, such as human motion and wind blowing. The textile could continuously power an electronic watch, directly charge a cell phone and drive water splitting reactions.

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Figure 1: Structural design of the hybrid power textile.
Figure 2: Photovoltaic textile and its electrical output characterization.
Figure 3: Fabric TENG and its electrical output characterization.
Figure 4: Electrical connection- and weaving-pattern-optimized hybrid textiles.
Figure 5: Demonstration of the power textile to drive portable electronics.


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Research was supported by the Hightower Chair foundation, KAUST, the ‘Thousands Talents’ Program for pioneer researcher and his innovation team, China, National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 51432005, 5151101243, 51561145021) and the National Key R&D Project from the Minister of Science and Technology (2016YFA0202704). X.F. and Y.H. also would like to acknowledge the Program for New Century Excellent Talents in University of China (NCET-13-0631) and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (106112016CDJZR225514).

Author information




J.C., X.F. and Z.L.W. conceived the idea, designed the experiment and guided the project. Y.H., J.C., X.F., N.Z., R.L., H.Z. and C.T. fabricated the device and performed electrical measurements. J.C., X.F. and Z.L.W. analysed the experimental data, drew the figures and prepared the manuscript.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Xing Fan or Zhong Lin Wang.

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Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Figures 1–22, Supplementary Notes 1–3, Supplementary Tables 1–3 and Supplementary References. (PDF 2169 kb)

Supplementary Video 1

Fabricating the power textile on a weaving machine. (AVI 2139 kb)

Supplementary Video 2

Hybrid power textile is sensitive to mechanical excitation. (AVI 3616 kb)

Supplementary Video 3

Charging a 2 mF commercial capacitor in the light with mechanical excitation. (AVI 6375 kb)

Supplementary Video 4

Charging a cell phone in the light with mechanical excitation. (AVI 6209 kb)

Supplementary Video 5

Driving an electronic watch in sunlight with hand shaking. (AVI 1805 kb)

Supplementary Video 6

Splitting the lake water under natural sunlight and wind. (AVI 5436 kb)

Supplementary Video 7

Power generation on a moving car from weak sunlight and wind. (AVI 5089 kb)

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Chen, J., Huang, Y., Zhang, N. et al. Micro-cable structured textile for simultaneously harvesting solar and mechanical energy. Nat Energy 1, 16138 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/nenergy.2016.138

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