Scientists at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore have created a customizable, fabric-like power source that can be cut, folded or stretched without losing its function.
They have come up with editable supercapacitors whose shape can be changed after they are manufactured while retaining their function as a power source. Although some progress has been made on stretchable supercapacitors, existing ones are made into predetermined designs and structures but the new invention can be stretched multi-directionally and is less likely to be mismatched when it is joined up to other electrical components.
These supercapacitors use electrodes based on mechanically strengthened ultralong manganese dioxide (MnO2) nanowire composites.While manganese dioxide is a common material for supercapacitors, the ultralong nanowire structure, strengthened with a network of carbon nanotubes and nanocellulose fibres, allows the electrodes to withstand the associated strains during the customisation process.
A supercapacitor edited with honeycomb‐like structure shows a specific capacitance of 227.2 mF/sq cm and can be stretched up to four times of its original length without degradation of electrochemical performance, which is superior to most of the stretchable supercapacitors.It maintains nearly 98 percent of the initial ability to store electrical energy, even after 10,000 stretch-and-release cycles.
“A reliable and editable supercapacitor is important for the development of the wearable electronics industry. It also opens up all sorts of possibilities in the realm of the ‘Internet-of-Things’ (IoT) when wearable electronics can reliably power themselves and connect and communicate with appliances in the home and other environments”, said Professor Chen in their media release.
“Customisable and versatile, these interconnected, fabric-like power sources are able to offer a plug-and-play functionality while maintaining good performance. Being highly stretchable, these flexible power sources are promising next-generation ‘fabric’ energy storage devices that could be integrated into wearable electronics”, he added.
The new material can be woven into elastic clothing and could be used in wearable sensors that monitor exertion during exercise.