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Patricia Daukantas

A coat that recharges the wearer’s cell phone with solar power.


Scatterings imageCornell student Heather Donsky models a solar coat designed by senior Abbey Liebman. The coat can charge cell phones, iPods and MP3 players.

Cotton textiles were the first product of the Industrial Revolution. Two hundred years later, they are merging with state-of-the-art nanotechnology. At the annual fashion show of Cornell University (U.S.A.), an undergraduate exhibited a spring coat that recharges the wearer’s cell phone with solar power. Cornell senior Abbey Liebman designed the coat out of a lightweight cotton twill and trimmed it with strips of flexible thin-film photovoltaic cells. Inside the coat, the cells are connected to electrically conductive cotton yarns designed by assistant professor Juan Hinestroza and his textile nanotechnology research group. The 200-µm-thick yarn—cotton with an embedded layer of nanostructured polymer—conducts power to a USB port in the waistband lining. Liebman says she was looking for a comfy design that would be good for the environment. Hinestroza’s group is now working to develop fabric that will serve directly as a solar collector.

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