Wearable in the consumer electronics market are experiencing some exciting strides driven by development of technologies for stretchable energy storage devices. Researchers at the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore working on developing next-generation, wearable, energy storage devices have developed a flexible power source that retains its functionality despite being stretched, cut, or folded. The wearable power device is a supercapacitor which, unlike the currently available ones, allows for significant changes in the structure and shape in multiple directions after it has been manufactured. This will enable manufacturers to remodel its shape to fit with a variety of electrical components joined to it, giving it a status of being customizable or ‘editable’ power source.
Their work is detailed in a paper published in the journal Advanced Materials in its print edition of January 8, 2018. Key institutes that collaborated with the team include Agency for Science, Technology and Research and Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE). The researchers have filed a patent for the customizable technology.
Nanowire Structure Key to Stretchability and Customizability of Supercapacitor
The supercapacitor is made up of a composite material made by strengthening manganese dioxide nanowires. The use of carbon nanotubes and nano-cellulose fibers in the design account for the marked stretchability the electrodes offers for customization. According to researchers, the wearable device can be manufactured cost-effectively using the current manufacturing technologies.
Development open Promising Avenues in Next-generation Wearable Electronics and IoT
The team demonstrated that when the device is joined to a sensor worn on human elbow can reliably provide signals to various diagnostic devices measuring vital parameters like the heart rate. The device when joined to self-power wearable electronics has the potential of connecting and communicating with home appliances and others in consumer electronics sector.
The highly stretchable, fabric-like power source developed by the team is likely to open promising avenues in integrated wearable electronics and unlock exciting possibilities in the Internet of Things (IoT) market.