Professor works to develop power sources for flexible, stretchable electronics

Dec 12, 2012 by Karen B. Roberts
This image shows a fully stretchable supercapacitor composed of carbon nanotube macrofilms, a polyurethane membrane separator and organic electrolytes.

(Phys.org)—Electronic devices become smaller, lighter, faster and more powerful with each passing year. Currently, however, electronics such as cell phones, tablets, laptops, etc., are rigid. But what if they could be made bendable or stretchy?

According to the University of Delaware's Bingqing Wei, stretchable electronics are the future of mobile electronics, leading giants such as IBM, Sony and Nokia to incorporate the technology into their products.

Beyond traditional electronics, potential stretchable applications include biomedical, wearable, portable and sensory devices, such as cyber skin for and implantable electronics.

"Advances in soft and stretchable substrates and elastomeric materials have given rise to an entirely new field," says Wei, a mechanical engineering professor at UD.

But even if scientists can engineer stretchable electronics – what about their energy source?

"Rechargeable and stretchable , also known as supercapacitors, are urgently needed to complement advances currently being made in flexible electronics," explains Wei.

Wei's research group at the University is making significant progress in developing scalable, stretchable power sources for this type of application using macrofilms, polyurethane membranes and organic electrolytes.

This, he says, requires new thinking about materials processing and device manufacturing to maximize energy storage without compromising energy resources.

To reveal a stretchable supercapacitator's true performance, the Wei group examined the system's electrochemical behavior using buckled single-wall nanotube (SWNT) electrodes and an elastomeric separator.

According to Wei, the developed in his lab achieved excellent stability in testing and the results will provide important guidelines for future design and testing of this leading-edge energy storage device.

As they work to refine the technology, Wei has filed a provisional patent to protect his team's research. The work was recently published in Nano Letters, a journal of the American Chemical Society.

Explore further: Understanding the source of extra-large capacities in promising Li-ion battery electrodes

More information: pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/nl303631e

Related Stories

UCLA engineers create fully stretchable OLED

Aug 27, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Engineers at the University of California, Los Angeles, have created the first fully stretchable organic light-emitting diode (OLED). The researchers devised a way of creating a carbon nanotube ...

Under the microscope #7

Feb 10, 2012

In this video Dr Ingrid Graz shows us a thin layer of gold on top of rubber. Cracks in the gold allow it to stretch and we can use this for stretchable electronics.

Electronics that flex and stretch like skin

Sep 18, 2012

Imec announced today that it has integrated an ultra-thin, flexible chip with bendable and stretchable interconnects into a package that adapts dynamically to curving and bending surfaces. The resulting circuitry ...

Recommended for you

Graphene surfaces on photonic racetracks

23 hours ago

In an article published in Optics Express, scientists from The University of Manchester describe how graphene can be wrapped around a silicon wire, or waveguide, and modify the transmission of light through it.

Simulating the invisible

Jul 28, 2014

Panagiotis Grammatikopoulos in the OIST Nanoparticles by Design Unit simulates the interactions of particles that are too small to see, and too complicated to visualize. In order to study the particles' behavior, he uses ...

Building 'invisible' materials with light

Jul 28, 2014

A new method of building materials using light, developed by researchers at the University of Cambridge, could one day enable technologies that are often considered the realm of science fiction, such as invisibility ...

User comments : 0