Solar-powered battery woven into fabric overcomes hurdle for ‘wearable electronics’
November 20, 2013 Editor 0
Though some people already seem inseparable from their smartphones, even more convenient, wearable, solar-powered electronics could be on the way soon, woven into clothing fibers or incorporated into watchbands. This novel battery development, which could usher in a new era of “wearable electronics,” is the topic of a paper in the ACS journal Nano Letters.
Taek-Soo Kim, Jung-Yong Lee, Jang Wook Choi and colleagues explain that electronic textiles have the potential to integrate smartphone functions into clothes, eyeglasses, watches and materials worn on the skin. Possibilities range from the practical — for example, allowing athletes to monitor vital signs — to the aesthetic, such as lighting up patterns on clothing. The bottleneck slowing progress toward development of a wider range of flexible e-fabrics and materials is the battery technology required to power them. Current wearable electronics, such as smartwatches and Google Glass, still require a charger with a cord, and already-developed textile batteries are costly and impractical. To unlink smart technology from the wall socket, the team had to rethink what materials are best suited for use in a flexible, rechargeable battery that’s also inexpensive.
They tested unconventional materials and found that they could coat polyester yarn with nickel and then carbon, and use polyurethane as a binder and separator to produce a flexible battery that kept working, even after being folded and unfolded many times. They also integrated lightweight solar cells to recharge the battery without disassembling it from clothing or requiring the wearer to plug in.
- Batteries: Going viral
- Technology that gets under your skin
- The next industrial revolution
- New computing model could lead to quicker advancements in medical research, according to Virginia Tech
- People prefer ‘smart grids’ with local energy
- A Vision for Humanitarian Uses of Emerging Technology for Emerging Needs
Subscribe to our stories
- In pictures: the 2019 Africa RISING Tanzania monitoring visit August 30, 2019
- Active Internationalization of Software Enterprises: Scale Development and Validation August 30, 2019
- The Manager’s Guide to Leveraging Disruption August 30, 2019
- Key take-aways from a recent Africa RISING exchange visit in Ghana August 30, 2019
- Device that recycles vaporized water from power plants wins MIT $100K May 28, 2019