What if our clothing could generate power? It’s a question that’s long plagued scientists, who have been developing shirts and jackets that create electricity through body motion for years.
The activewear company Vollebak thinks it has just such a jacket — one that can conduct low levels of electricity that won’t harm the person wearing it. Except this outerwear doesn’t rely on kinetics. The Vollebak jacket generates power through a unique material called graphene, which is so tough to isolate and use that it was practically theoretical until 2004.
Graphene is essentially pure carbon. It’s a single layer of graphite, the stuff that goes into mechanical pencils, and composed of carbon atoms in hexagon patterns. For many years, graphene was virtually unstudied, because scientists struggled to isolate it from graphite and test it in the laboratory. That all changed in 2004, when physicists Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov began the graphene research that would eventually win them a Nobel Prize.