Professor works to develop power sources for flexible, stretchable electronics

December 12, 2012 by Karen B. Roberts, University of Delaware
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: UCLA engineers create fully stretchable OLED

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

Related Stories

UCLA engineers create fully stretchable OLED

August 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 and polymer ...

Under the microscope #7

February 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

September 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 can be embedded ...

Simplifying heart surgery with stretchable electronics devices

November 15, 2012

(Medical Xpress)—Researchers at the McCormick School of Engineering are part of a team that has used stretchable electronics to create a multipurpose medical catheter that can both monitor heart functions and perform corrections ...

Recommended for you

Fast computer control for molecular machines

January 19, 2018

Scientists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have developed a novel electric propulsion technology for nanorobots. It allows molecular machines to move a hundred thousand times faster than with the biochemical processes ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.