Researchers from the University of Manchester are working to design a new type of flexible battery. These batteries would be printed directly on fabric, and could be a key factor in solving one of the biggest problems facing wearable technology. As this technology grows more advanced and complex, the devices rely on more and more power to function properly. This demands larger and clunkier battery packs; but these new flexible batteries could change all that.
Most wearable technology uses devices called supercapacitors. Supercapacitors operate like batteries, powering the devices as needed. At the same time supercapacitors also allow for extremely fast charging, which means devices can be ready to go in a matter of seconds. Scientists have been hard at work to combine these features into a flexible form, and they believe they’ve finally found the answer.
These new flexible batteries can provide devices with a solid-state supercapacitor. The flexible supercapacitor relies on conductive graphene-oxide ink, which is printed on cotton fabric. This makes for a lightweight, flexible, and highly effective battery that can charge wearable devices without weighing them down.
“Textiles are some of the most flexible substrates, and for the first time, we printed a stable device that can store energy and be as flexible as cotton. The device is also washable, which makes it practically possible to use it for the future smart clothes. We believe this work will open the door for printing other types of devices on textile using 2D-materials inks.”
The graphene-oxide ink makes the potential for mass production far more likely than other methods. It cuts down on the cost, and allows for the batteries to be created quickly and efficiently. This technique could be achieved by technology as simple as inkjet printers, or even screen printing. Scientists are in favor of using inkjet printers to achieve these results as they can ensure consistency in the product as well as speed and reduced expenses.
This technology has countless potential applications in the wearable world, from consumer electronics to military uses. People could use the wearables to track health and fitness stats, or simply remain connected to the digital world no matter where they go. The possibilities are endless, and this flexible battery is leading the way.