For whatever reason, researchers have long been stuck on the idea of harnessing the wasted energy potential of the human body. We've seen our nation's brightest try to siphon power off of our spare body heat, our breath and even our blood -- we haven't been able to cast off our wall chargers just yet, but progress is being made. Today's no-socket wonder comes from Wake Forest University's Center of Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials, and it falls into the body-heat category. Power Felt, a new fabric-like thermoelectric device comprised of layers of carbon nanotubes and flexible plastic fibers, can create an electrical charge from temperature differences.
The Power Felt's layered nanotubes allow it to generate more electricity than standalone carbon nanotube / polymer composite films and, according to researchers, could add only $1 to the cost of a charging cell phone cover. "Imagine it in an emergency kit, wrapped around a flashlight, powering a weather radio, charging a prepaid cell phone," said project head David Carroll, "Literally, just by sitting on your phone, Power Felt could provide relief during power outages or accidents." The thermoelectric technology still has a long way to go before it's ready for the market, however, leaving the US military's technology savvy tailors hanging off the edge of their seats.