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Triboelectric Yarns with Electrospun Functional Polymer Coatings for Highly Durable and Washable Smart Textile Applications

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journal contribution
posted on 2021-03-30, 15:37 authored by Tommaso Busolo, Piotr K. Szewczyk, Malavika Nair, Urszula Stachewicz, Sohini Kar-Narayan
Triboelectric generators are excellent candidates for smart textiles applications due to their ability to convert mechanical energy into electrical energy. Such devices can be manufactured into yarns by coating a conductive core with a triboelectric material, but current triboelectric yarns lack the durability and washing resistance required for textile-based applications. In this work, we develop a unique triboelectric yarn comprising a conducting carbon nanotube (CNT) yarn electrode coated with poly­(vinylidene fluoride) (PVDF) fibers deposited by a customized electrospinning process. We show that the electrospun PVDF fibers adhere extremely well to the CNT core, producing a uniform and stable triboelectric coating. The PVDF–CNT coaxial yarn exhibits remarkable triboelectric energy harvesting during fatigue testing with a 33% power output improvement and a peak power density of 20.7 μW cm–2 after 200 000 fatigue cycles. This is potentially due to an increase in the active surface area of the PVDF fiber coating upon repeated contact. Furthermore, our triboelectric yarn meets standard textile industry benchmarks for both abrasion and washing by retaining functionality over 1200 rubbing cycles and 10 washing cycles. We demonstrate the energy harvesting and motion sensing capabilities of our triboelectric yarn in prototype textile-based applications, thereby highlighting its applicability to smart textiles.