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Kristy Jost’s research interweaves textile design and materials science to create garments capable of storing energy and powering small electronics.

“Luckily for Kristy Jost, ’11, black is always chic. The fashion designer pursuing a materials science doctorate works with plenty of charcoal powder — a key ingredient in her drive to develop “fabric batteries” that she hopes will one day power runway-worthy smart garments and more.

Her innovative, fashion-centric research at Drexel University’s A.J. Drexel Nanotechnology Institute and the Shima Seiki Haute Technology Lab also is entwined with potentially life-saving threads.

“All of this has military applications,” says Jost, 24, stylish in tortoise-rimmed glasses and a scarf looped around her neck. Her research fellowship is funded through the U.S. Department of Defense.

Fabric batteries — essentially supercapacitors made of non-toxic, flexible textiles — are electrical energy-storing devices that can operate small electronics, such as iPhones. For the military, that could translate into Under Armour-style garments capable of tracking soldiers and monitoring vitals.

Currently, that type of surveillance requires a bulky battery pack that weighs about 12 pounds and takes up the space of the typical engineering textbook. Even reducing that load by a few ounces could have significant impact on missions, Jost points out…"

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The video shown with this story was a winner in the 2012 IGERT Video & Poster Competition.