Researchers from Vanderbilt University have developed an ultra-thin, graphene-based device that can be placed in fabrics of clothing to generate electricity from human motion.

Being 1/5000th the thickness of a human hair, the device can sense even the slightest human movement. The research team commented that “compared to the other approaches designed to harvest energy from human motion, our method has two fundamental advantages. The materials are atomically thin and small enough to be impregnated into textiles without affecting the fabric's look or feel and it can extract energy from movements that are slower than 10 Hertz – 10 cycles per second – over the whole low-frequency window of movements corresponding to human motion.”

The device was made through a film of black phosphorus. An electrolyte was put between two black phosphorus electrodes that are made of black phosphorus and graphene. When they were made to work with each other, they bend and flex for creating energy.

The team believes that this new device can prove to be very beneficial and has probable uses beyond power systems. “When incorporated into clothing, our device can translate human motion into an electrical signal with high sensitivity that could provide a historical record of our movements. Or clothes that track our motions in three dimensions could be integrated with virtual reality technology. There are many directions that this could go,” they concluded.