A team from Nottingham Trent University are working on miniature solar cells, which can be embedded into a garment, meaning that its pocket then becomes a charging point for a smartphone.
The solar panels are just 3mm long and 1.5mm wide, meaning they can be sown into the fabric with ease. They are so small that the wearer of the garment will not feel them and due to being coated in a resin, they can be washed and dried like normal clothes.
And research has revealed that they need approximately 2000 cells to charge a phone or a fitness tracker, for example.
Professor Tilak Dias, who is leading the research, said: "It could do away with the need to plug items into sockets and reduce the demand on the grid while cutting carbon emissions. The electrical power demand for smart e-textiles has always been its Achilles heel and this technology will allow people to use smart textiles while on the move."
The Nottingham Trent University team have tested their idea with a 5cm x 5cm piece of fabric, which has been embedded with 200 cells.