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The ‘e-textile’ prototype uses sustainable and low-cost materials such as tomato skin

Researchers at the Faculty of Science of the University of Malaga have designed a ‘low cost’ shirt capable of producing electricity due to the difference in body temperature and the environment. This is the ‘e-textile’ prototype, developed together with the Italian Institute of Technology of Genoa (IIT), based on sustainable methods and low-cost materials such as tomato skin.

“Until now, for the creation of electronic devices, metals were the most used chemical elements. With this project we go one step further and, using lightweight, more affordable and less toxic materials, we have also managed to generate electricity, ”explains José Alejandro Heredia, one of the authors of this work.

The formula is very simple: water and ethanol – a type of organic alcohol – derived from tomato skin and carbon nanoparticles. A solution that, according to experts, when heated, penetrates and adheres to cotton, thereby achieving electrical properties such as those generated by tellurium, germanium or lead, but from biodegradable materials.

“A person walking or running gets warm. If you were wearing a shirt designed with these characteristics, the difference with the coldest temperature in the environment could produce electricity, ”says Susana Guzmán, another of the UMA’s authors.

The results of this project, in which the Italian researcher Pietro Cataldi has also participated, have been published in the magazine ‘ Advanced Functional Materials ‘. Currently this team of scientists continues to work on the development of devices that fit the textiles and, for example, generate light so that the shirt is reflective or even allow the mobile to be charged without using the charger.

Biomedicine, thanks to the monitoring of the signals of each user, or robotics, since with the use of these less heavy and more flexible materials, the characteristics of the robots can be improved, are other possible applications.

“In an earlier study we were able to create a Wi-Fi antenna from tomato and graphene skin. We are also considering integrating this invention into the ‘e-textile’ shirt, which would allow us to look like the superhero Iron Man , who has all kinds of technological devices attached to him and can fly, ”jokes Guzmán.

José Alejandro Heredia and Susana Guzmán belong to the Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry of the University of Malaga. Both are part of the Institute of Subtropical and Mediterranean Horticulture (IHSM) and among its main lines of R & D & I highlights the creation of electronic devices from biodegradable materials.”

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