New Fibers Mimic Electric Eels #WearableWednesday


Those electric eels you’ve seen on NatGeo have been an inspiration for scientists at Fudan University in Shanghai according to LiveScience. They’ve developed fibers that mimic the electrocytes in eels, but producing higher voltages.  Eels use their electrocytes in concert, while the new fibers use a series of capacitors. Here’s a description.

The scientists fabricated the capacitors by first wrapping sheets of carbon nanotubes around elastic rubber fibers 500 microns wide, or about five times the average width of a human hair. Carbon nanotubes are pipes only nanometers, or billionths of a meter, in diameter that possess remarkable electrical and mechanical properties.

The researchers made sure that the electrically conductive carbon nanotube sheets did not completely cover the electrically insulating rubber. Instead, there were gaps where the insulating rubber was exposed. Such gaps are key, because capacitors consist of both conductive and insulating units.

Then, the scientists applied patches of electrically conductive electrolyte gel onto these fibers. The pattern of patches the researchers used converted the fibers into capacitors.

I decided to look further into the team’s white paper on Journal for Advanced Materials to find more benefits of this fiber structure besides the obvious small size and power generation. It’s going to be a win-win for wearables as the fiber’s shape makes it flexible, stretchable and weave-able. Their electrochemical capacitor can also be combined with solar cells for some energy harvesting or energy storing. The paper also boasted that “a fiber about 39 feet (12 meters) long could generate 1,000 volts”. They’ve already been tested in wearables, according to Hao Sun, lead author of the study.

In experiments, they created energy wristbands to power electronic watches, and wove fibers into T-shirts to power 57 light-emitting diodes (LEDs). In the future, these energy fibers “might be incorporated into our daily clothes to power our wearable devices, such as the Apple Watch and Google Glass”, Sun said.

For those watching trends in wearables, I would definitely put electrochemistry in the mix. This is going to have a big impact on manufacturing and the capability of textiles, bands and other wearables. Also, if you need a better understanding of capacitors, just check out our Circuit Playground guide on the topic. Circuit Playground is a special series by Adafruit including guides and videos explaining all of those electronic terms you haven’t had the guts to ask about. Besides, it’s okay if you don’t know them, because like a Jedi master, you will be learning for life anyway.  Did I mention there is a cool app, too? Do it!

Flora breadboard is Every Wednesday is Wearable Wednesday here at Adafruit! We’re bringing you the blinkiest, most fashionable, innovative, and useful wearables from around the web and in our own original projects featuring our wearable Arduino-compatible platform, FLORA. Be sure to post up your wearables projects in the forums or send us a link and you might be featured here on Wearable Wednesday!

As 2022 starts, let’s take some time to share our goals for CircuitPython in 2022. Just like past years (full summary 2019, 2020, and 2021), we’d like everyone in the CircuitPython community to contribute by posting their thoughts to some public place on the Internet. Here are a few ways to post: a video on YouTub, a post on the CircuitPython forum, a blog post on your site, a series of Tweets, a Gist on GitHub. We want to hear from you. When you post, please add #CircuitPython2022 and email to let us know about your post so we can blog it up here.

Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.

Join 32,000+ makers on Adafruit’s Discord channels and be part of the community!

Have an amazing project to share? The Electronics Show and Tell is every Wednesday at 7pm ET! To join, head over to YouTube and check out the show’s live chat – we’ll post the link there.

Join us every Wednesday night at 8pm ET for Ask an Engineer!

Follow Adafruit on Instagram for top secret new products, behinds the scenes and more

CircuitPython – The easiest way to program microcontrollers –

Maker Business — Pololu’s account of the chip shortage

Wearables — Stay frosty

Electronics — High voltage logic

Python for Microcontrollers — Python on Microcontrollers Newsletter: CircuitPython 2022 Survey, Python #1 in 2021 and more! #Python #CircuitPython @micropython @ThePSF

Adafruit IoT Monthly — 2021 in Recap!

Microsoft MakeCode — MakeCode Thank You!

EYE on NPI — Maxim’s Himalaya uSLIC Step-Down Power Module #EyeOnNPI @maximintegrated @digikey

New Products – Adafruit Industries – Makers, hackers, artists, designers and engineers! — New Products 1/12/22 Feat. Adafruit QT Py ESP32-S2 WiFi Dev Board with uFL Antenna Port – STEMMA QT!

Get the only spam-free daily newsletter about wearables, running a "maker business", electronic tips and more! Subscribe at !

No Comments

No comments yet.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.