NanoScience Technology Center
NANOTECHNOLOGY SEMINAR SERIES
Self-Powering Fibers: Fabrics to Power Your Wearable Devices
Jayan Thomas, Ph.D.
NanoScience Technology Center
Materials Science and Engineering
CREOL, The College of Optics and Photonics
University of Central Florida
Abstract: Currently, wearable electronic devices attract considerable attention due to its applications in communication, entertainment, on-body sensing, artificial skins, and general healthcare. Integration of these wearable devices to textiles, eyeglasses, and watches, or implanted directly into the body eliminates the requirement of a distinct carriage. Also, real-time monitoring of healthcare using wearable devices provides more reliable data regarding organ functions. Since all these electronic devices require energy to operate, wearable energy devices are an integral part of wearables. This presentation focuses on our recent initiatives in the direction of developing self-powering fabrics. It is accomplished by fabricating filaments in the form of copper ribbons that are thin, flexible and lightweight. These filaments were successfully weaved into a piece of fabric. The ribbons have a solar cell on one side and energy-storing layers on the other. When this smart energy fabric is exposed to sunlight, energy is harvested by the solar cell and directly transferred to the other side of the ribbon where it gets stored without a separate battery. This fabric would essentially turn jackets into wearable, solar-powered storage devices that do not need to be plugged in. It could one day revolutionize wearable technology, helping soldiers who carry heavy loads of batteries to texting-addicted teens who could charge his/her smartphone by simply slipping into their pocket. There is a host of other potential uses, including electric cars that could generate and store energy whenever they are in the sun. The presentation will conclude with a discussion about the prospects of energy storage devices for current and upcoming wearable devices.
Biography: Dr. Jayan Thomas is currently an Associate Professor of Nanotechnology, Engineering, and Photonics at the University of Central Florida (UCF). After his Ph. D. from Cochin University of Science and Technology in India, he worked as a research faculty in the College of Optical Sciences at the University of Arizona since 2001. He moved to UCF in 2011. He has published more than 100 scientific papers and a few book chapters. Many national and international media including Reuters, National Geography, Nature news, Huffington Post, The Guardian, Foreign Policy, Science Vie, Fox News and USA Today have featured his energy research. He has been awarded the prestigious R&D100 award for his invention of the energy transmitting and storing cables in 2015. He is also a recipient of the National Science Foundation’s CAREER award (2014), the Veeco award for nanotechnology innovations (2010) and a finalist of the World Technology Network award (2014) sponsored by TIME and FORTUNE magazines. In addition, he has been awarded UCF's Excellence in Research award (2014), Reach for the Stars award (2016), University Excellence in Research award (2018) and Luminary award (2018). He has eight issued/pending patents and a co-founder of two companies.