Date:29 June 2017
Wearable electronics is the fashion trend of the future. But those LEDs, health sensors, heaters and whatever else we’ll come up with all need energy.
A team from the University of California published a study in Science Advances which describes a battery that could solve this issue.
The battery is made out of springs and charged by an integrated solar cell. It’s unprecedented tolerance to repeated bending makes it well suited for integration into wearable electronics such as health monitors.
Batteries are comprised of a few main components: an anode, cathode and electrolyte. Commercial battery designs such as lithium-ion batteries are made of two solid electrodes and a liquid electrolyte.
None of these components have noteworthy intrinsic elasticity and attempts to make them from more flexible materials, so far, have come at significant cost to battery performance.
The new battery’s rigid metal components are formatted into springs layered on top of one another. The resulting battery looks like a long, thin slinky bracelet as in the image below. The silver-zinc battery design was chosen for its high-energy density and non-toxic materials.
According to graduate student, Alla Zamarayeva and main author of the paper, the new battery design holds potential. The tightness and size of the springs can be customised to suit a range of applications.
The team is currently working on attaching a power source to the battery as well as optimising an integrated energy-saving and storage system.
On all design fronts Zamarayeva sees renewable energy sources critical to the future of wearable devices.
The smaller electronic devices become and the more electronic devices we own, the more inconvenient it becomes to keep everything charged by plugging them into an outlet.
Hopefully the flexible and stretchable battery is a logical solution and will play an important role in sustaining the vision of wearable electronics.