February 22, 2012, 3:14 PM —
Researchers at Wake Forest University are using cutting-edge carbon nanotube designs to turn active, mobile, non-coma-dreaming humans into the heat source that will generate power for their cell phones.
If you'll remember, that was the central assumption of TheMatrix (it was central to the plot, but tertiary in the concept behind the movie, right behind "We can make Keanu look cool with CGI" and "Lots of fanboys will pay to watch Carrie Anne Moss in skintight vinyl.")
Their research, which appears in the current version of Nano Letters led to the development of a material called Power Felt that is made of carbon nanotubes wrapped in plastic fibers designed to feel like fabric.
It creates a charge by exploiting differences in temperature between segments of the wearer's body, or between the body and cooler air around it.
Humans "waste a lot of energy as heat," according to Wake Forest graduate student Corey Hewitt, who helped research and write a paper on power-generating result of thermoelectric effect.