Gitanjali Rao speaks onstage during The 2018 MAKERS Conference at NeueHouse Hollywood on February 6, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Rachel Murray/Getty Images for MAKERS)

While Flint’s water crisis has fallen out of the public news cycle, its residents are still living with the aftermath of an estimated 40 percent of homes that drank and bathed in dangerously lead-polluted water. It took several years, in which residents—including children—were turning up with mysterious rashes and other illnesses—before national attention to the crisis forced the city to admit it had a problem.

The city of Flint disconnected from Detroit’s water line as a cost-cutting measure and began to draw water from the Flint River in April 2014. Soon after, shockingly high levels of lead were found in the city's water supply.

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Researchers have created energy-harvesting yarn from tightly coiled carbon nanotubes, which can be activated by the electrolytes in a simple saline solution. With no need for a battery, these “twistron yarns” have numerous potential applications in wearable, medicinal and oceanic contexts.

How twistron yarn is made

An international research team led by scientists at The University of Texas at Dallas (UT Dallas) and Hanyang University in South Korea constructed the yarn from carbon nanotubes—hollow cylinders 10,000 times smaller in diameter than a human hair. After twist-spinning sheets of carbon nanotubes—with a motion similar to a spinning wheel—to create strong, lightweight yarns, researchers introduced elasticity with additional twist until the yarns coiled akin to an over-twisted rubber band.

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