Stretchable battery is printed onto clothing – video

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

Researchers in Korea have developed a soft, mechanically deformable, and stretchable lithium battery which can be used in the development of wearable devices.

All the materials, including the anode, cathode, current collector, electrolytes, and encapsulant, are stretchable and can be printed onto the surface of clothing.

The team, led by Dr. Jeong Gon Son from the Soft Hybrid Materials Research Centre at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST), directly printed the electrode and current collector materials on either side of an arm warmer made of spandex and applied a stretchable encapsulant to the material. This demonstrates the ability to print a stretchable high-voltage organic battery directly on clothing. Using the resulting battery, the research team was able to continuously power a smart watch even when it was being put on, taken off, or stretched (as shown on the video below).

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To enhance the stretchability, the research team avoided using materials which were unnecessary for energy storage, such as rubber, and instead used a new soft and stretchable organic gel as the binder. This holds the active electrode materials in place and facilitates the transfer of ions. In addition, a conductive ink was fabricated using a material with excellent stretchability and gas barrier properties to serve as as a current collector material that transfers electrons and an encapsulant which can function stably even at a high voltage and in various deformed states without swelling due to electrolyte absorption.

The battery developed by the team is also able to incorporate existing lithium-ion battery materials with an energy storage density of ~2.8 mWh/cm2, similar to commercially available hard lithium-ion batteries at a driving voltage of 3.3 V or higher. All of the constituent components of the team’s stretchable lithium-ion battery possess the mechanical stability to maintain their performance even after repeated pulling of the battery 1,000 or more times, a high stretchability of 50% or above, and long-term stability in air.

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