Researchers create customizable, fabric-like power source for wearable electronics

A wearable power source.

Researchers create customizable, fabric-like power source for wearable electronics
Image Credit: Ang Hui Min Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Led by Professor Chen Xiaodong, Associate Chair (Faculty) at the School of Materials Science & Engineering and his team at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) have created a customizable, fabric-like power source that can be cut, folded or stretched without losing its function.

In the journal Advanced Materials (print edition 8 January) how they have created the wearable power source, a supercapacitor, which works like a fast-charging battery and can be recharged many times.

Critically, they have made their supercapacitor adaptable or “editable”, which means its structure and shape can be changed after it is made while holding its capacity as a power source. Existing stretchable supercapacitors are made into foreordained plans and structures, yet the new creation can be extended multi-directionally and is less inclined to be bungled when it is signed up to other electrical segments.

The new supercapacitor, when altered into a honeycomb-like structure, can store an electrical charge four times higher than most existing stretchable supercapacitors. Also, when extended to four times its unique length, it keeps up almost 98 for every penny of the underlying capacity to store electrical vitality, even after 10,000 extend and discharge cycles.

Investigations are done by Prof Chen and his group likewise demonstrated that when the editable supercapacitor was combined with a sensor and set on the human elbow, it performed superior to existing stretchable supercapacitors. The editable supercapacitor could give a steady stream of signs notwithstanding when the arm was swinging, which are then transmitted remotely to outside gadgets, for example, one that catches a patient’s heart rate.

The creators trust that the editable supercapacitor could be effortlessly mass-delivered as it would depend on existing assembling innovations. Generation cost will along these lines below, assessed at SGD$0.13 (USD$0.10) to deliver 1 cm2 of the material.

The editable supercapacitor is made of strengthened manganese dioxide nanowire composite material. While manganese dioxide is a common material for supercapacitors, the ultralong nanowire structure, strengthened with a network of carbon nanotubes and nanocellulose fibres, allows the electrodes to withstand the associated strains during the customisation process.

Professor Chen said, “A reliable and editable supercapacitor is important for the development of the wearable electronics industry. It also opens up all sorts of possibilities in the realm of the ‘Internet-of-Things’ when wearable electronics can reliably power themselves and connect and communicate with appliances in the home and other environments.

“My own dream is to one day combine our flexible supercapacitors with wearable sensors for health and sports performance diagnostics. With the ability for wearable electronics to power themselves, you could imagine the day when we create a device that could be used to monitor a marathon runner during a race with great sensitivity, detecting signals from both under and over-exertion.”