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Solar-powered battery woven into fabric overcomes hurdle for 'wearable electronics'

Date:
November 20, 2013
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
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 could usher in a new era of "wearable electronics."

Convenient, wearable, solar-powered electronics could be on the way soon, incorporated into watchbands (as above) or woven into clothing fibers.
Credit: American Chemical Society

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.

The authors acknowledge funding from the National Research Foundation of Korea.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Yong-Hee Lee, Joo-Seong Kim, Jonghyeon Noh, Inhwa Lee, Hyeong Jun Kim, Sunghun Choi, Jeongmin Seo, Seokwoo Jeon, Taek-Soo Kim, Jung-Yong Lee, Jang Wook Choi. Wearable Textile Battery Rechargeable by Solar Energy. Nano Letters, 2013; 13 (11): 5753 DOI: 10.1021/nl403860k

Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "Solar-powered battery woven into fabric overcomes hurdle for 'wearable electronics'." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 November 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131120112000.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2013, November 20). Solar-powered battery woven into fabric overcomes hurdle for 'wearable electronics'. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131120112000.htm
American Chemical Society. "Solar-powered battery woven into fabric overcomes hurdle for 'wearable electronics'." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131120112000.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

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