Those tiny black flecks in the photo above may not look like much, but they could be the key to a revolution in wearable Health Tech devices. What you see in this picture is are bits of single-layer molybdenum disulfide (MoS2), and researchers at Columbia Engineering and the Georgia Institute of Technology have proven that this material has piezoelectric properties. This means that it creates electricity when it expands or contracts.
Researchers have theorized that such thin layers of materials could have piezoelectric properties, but this is the first time that this behavior has been demonstrated. MoS2 in thicker layers does not have the same properties. The alignment of the molecules in the layers only produces an electrical current in one direction, and with thicker material, the random arrangement of the layers cancels out the current that is generated.
Produced in quantity, this single-layer material could be incorporated into fabrics, flexible sensors, or other devices to provide electrical power for wearable Health Tech devices. It could reduce or eliminate the need for batteries, resulting in a “wear it and forget it” ease of use. The discovery of the piezoelectric properties for MoS2 is likely to lead to experimentation with related compounds, which could lead to stretchable materials that can generate electricity.