The experimental device promises to provide a safe and comfortable power source for technologies that must bend and flex with our bodies.
Electronics are showing up everywhere: on our laps, in pockets and purses and, increasingly, snuggled up against our skin or sewed into our clothing.
But the adoption of wearable electronics has so far been limited by their need to derive power from bulky, rigid batteries that reduce comfort and may present safety hazards due to chemical leakage or combustion.
Now Stanford researchers have developed a soft and stretchable battery that relies on a special type of plastic to store power more safely than the flammable formulations used in conventional batteries today.
“Until now we haven’t had a power source that could stretch and bend the way our bodies do, so that we can design electronics that people can comfortably wear,” said chemical engineer Zhenan Bao, who teamed up with materials scientist Yi Cui to develop the device they describe in the Nov. 26 edition of Nature Communications.
The use of plastics, or polymers, in batteries is not new. For some time, lithium ion batteries have used polymers as electrolytes — the energy source that transports negative ions to the battery’s positive pole. Until now, however, those polymer electrolytes have been flowable gels that could, in some cases, leak or burst into flame.
To avoid such risks, the Stanford School of Engineering researchers developed a polymer that is solid and stretchable rather than gooey and potentially leaky, and yet still carries an electric charge between the battery’s poles. In lab tests the experimental battery maintained a constant power output even when squeezed, folded and stretched to nearly twice its original length.
The prototype is thumbnail-sized and stores roughly half as much energy, ounce for ounce, as a comparably sized conventional battery. Graduate student David Mackanic said the team is working to increase the stretchable battery’s energy density, build larger versions of the device and run future experiments to demonstrate its performance outside the lab. One potential application for such a device would be to power stretchable sensors designed to stick to the skin to monitor heart rate and other vital signs as part of the BodyNet wearable technology being developed in Bao’s lab.
The Latest Updates from Bing News & Google News
Go deeper with Bing News on:
- As LSU prepares to release sexual misconduct review, survivors want ‘serious consequences’on February 28, 2021 at 2:00 am
After months of questions of how LSU has handled allegations of sexual misconduct — in cases that now stretch all the way up to former head football coach Les Miles ...
- Cannondale's Adventure Neo Is a Preview of the Versatile and Accessible Future of E-Bikeson February 26, 2021 at 8:46 pm
We spoke with Cannondale project manager Nina Baum to learn more about the company's new Adventure Neo e-bike and the state of the industry as a whole.
- HAVA heated mug hits Kickstarter from $99on February 26, 2021 at 3:18 am
If you are searching for a way to keep your favorite brew warm during the day, you may be interested in a new heated mug called HAVA. The"10 ounce ceramic ...
- 2021 Porsche Taycan RWD erases most differences between electric and gasoline vehicleson February 25, 2021 at 9:25 pm
It’s time to stop talking about electric cars like they’re odd and radically different, a new kind of transportation. They’re ...
- New wearable turns your body into a batteryon February 25, 2021 at 9:38 am
Scientists have figured out a way to turn the human body into a battery through a low-cost wearable device. Through a small thermoelectric generator that can be worn as a ring or bracelet, researchers ...
Go deeper with Google Headlines on:
Go deeper with Bing News on:
- Move Over Fitness Trackers, Here Come On-Skin Electronics That Look Like Stickerson February 25, 2021 at 11:29 am
Fitness trackers are all the rage, but what about an on-skin sensor that can track your health and help you and your healthcare provider monitor your health?
- Scientists invented a wearable that recharges in the most incredible wayon February 25, 2021 at 9:45 am
For all the technological advances that have been made in the consumer electronic space, batteries are still the biggest limitation. Allowing a device to charge without needing a plug is a huge ...
- Molecular bridges power up printed electronicson February 25, 2021 at 9:32 am
The exfoliation of graphite into graphene layers inspired the investigation of thousands of layered materials: amongst them transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs). These semiconductors can be used to ...
- Researchers develop a new wearable device that is powered by the users’ bodyon February 25, 2021 at 2:10 am
A new wearable device has been developed by researchers at CU Boulder. This device is unique since it is capable of transforming the human body into a biological battery, since it is powered by the ...
- Wearable Bioelectronics: Detecting COVID-19 With a Sticker on Your Skinon February 24, 2021 at 6:29 am
A University of Missouri engineer received a grant from the National Science Foundation to plan for large-scale manufacturing of an on-skin, wearable bioelectronic device. One day, a wearable, bioelec ...