Museum of Science and Industry


While scientific discoveries can be exciting, big news about quantum physics or the expanding universe can seem light years away from our daily lives. That's why it's especially exciting to hear about creative inventions that have the potential to transform the way we do everyday things.

Researchers using carbon nanotubes—molecules of carbon cleverly arranged into cylinders just a few billionths of a meter in diameter—have worked them into a felt-like material that can generate electricity from mere differences in temperature. Its thermoelectric properties could use the heat given off by the human body to charge mobile devices, like a cellphone or a flashlight!

If the fabric can be made more energy efficient, this nanotechnology could be cost-effective enough to reduce our dependence on chemical batteries and power cords. What uses can you imagine for this kind of thermoelectric fabric?

Image: Materialscience/CC BY-SA 3.0 Carbon nanotube bundles

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  • Extended hours through April 19
    Daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
  • Open daily except Thanksgiving and Christmas
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Museum of Science+Industry
5700 S. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60637
1 (773) 684-1414
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