Researchers design yarn-like flexible battery to power wearables

Researchers at Fudan University in Shanghai have come up with a new flexible battery which can be made into yarn-like threads. The battery innovations could be a component that powers smart clothes in the near future.

To make these batteries even more flexible the researchers, lead by Huisheng Peng, coiled them around a stretchable core so that the ‘cells’ could flex AND stretch: vital qualities for any clothing item in everyday use. This solution would be quite elegant in use as many battery packs are solid, inflexible tubes or blocks which aren’t comfortable upon the person.

The flexible yarn-like battery

The flexible yarn-like battery

Electronics Weekly describes how the flexible thread batteries are produced; “First, the team created wires made from carbon nanotubes nested inside each other. Some wires were coated with a powder of lithium titanium oxide nanoparticles, and others with lithium manganese oxide.” The process goes on, “One of each type of wire – representing the battery’s positive and negative terminals – were twisted together with a gel electrolyte and a thin strip of non-conducting material separating them.” The battery is more comfortable and wearable also due to the fact that it contains no metal components.

Further information about the battery reveals that it does still have an Achilles Heel within its qualities; battery life. While the yarn-like qualities and blending into wearables is admirable with its light weight of 0.8g per metre the current 10cm long battery strands can power a string of LEDs for just a minute. Now that isn’t a very precise metric for measuring battery capacity but I’m sure the researchers haven’t designed their LED strings to be capable of sapping a battery very quickly but less than a minute for any device is pretty dire.

However with so many other admirable properties we hope this yarn-like battery can up its capacity and stamina to make it useful for mass market. Perhaps it can be combined with the flexible fibre-optic solar cells which are also weavable.

This story was first seen on Electronics Weekly.

Mark Tyson

Mark has worked for a number of years as a newshound on other technology news websites. He decided to write for Tech Assimilate thanks to this web site's open embracing vision of the fascinating world of personal technology. Mark has also worked in the printing and advertising industries for tens of years previously.

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