This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project will prototype and characterize piezoelectric (PZ) textiles and their application to energy scavenging systems. SmartWear has verified that fiber spinning represents an improvement over traditional methods for manufacture of PZ polymer materials. The fiber spinning process allows for enhanced technical performance through improved polymer recrystallization as compared to solution-cast thin films, which eliminates the need for additional processing ("poling") to solicit the PZ properties. With potentially lower cost and higher performance, SmartWear's PZ fiber technology may also have significant applications to other existing products where PZ thin films are currently used.
Textile forms of piezoelectric materials will enable development of portable and/or wearable systems for energy scavenging and distributed passive sensing. For example, garments utilizing PZ materials could capture or regenerate electrical power from body movement, and would be beneficial to first responder, security and military personnel in the field. In addition, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV's) could tow a PZ banner during flight and regenerate electrical power for onboard electronics, either reducing battery payload or extending battery lifetime or providing additional capability for the same battery weight. While UAV's are currently used primarily in military applications, their use in surveillance for border patrol and remote search-and-rescue is expected to increase as systems become more affordable.