Electronics are everywhere on our laps, in pockets and purses and, know they are slowly sneaking up our clothes and skin. The adoption of wearable electronics has been limited for a variety of reasons such as the need for less bulky power and the risk of hazards from chemical leakage and combustion.
Now, researchers at Stanford University have created a soft and stretchable battery to improve efficacy and safety in wearable electronics. The development utilizes a special type of plastic to store power than flammable bases used in today’s conventional batteries.
"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 published in the journal Nature Communications.
However, the use of plastics for power storage in batteries not something novel. In recent years, lithium ion batteries were used polymers to function as electrolytes which is a source of energy that transports negative ions to a battery's positive pole. Unfortunately, although effective, these polymer electrolytes could leak or burst into flame.
To address these risks—researchers are developing a solid and stretchable polymer that can avoid any leaks but still carries an electric charge between a battery’s poles. During lab tests, the experimental battery maintains a constant power output applied pressure.
Learn more about how batteries work:
One potential application for the research is to power stretchable sensors for medical uses like monitoring heart rate and other vital signs as part of the BodyNet wearable technology.
Source: Science Daily