Stretch Your Battery, Literally
Researchers have revealed their development of a flexible and stretchable lithium-ion battery that can be extended to three hundred times its original size, without any degradation in its performance. The battery is able to return to its original state after being stretched, and it also supports wireless charging. It is the results of the collaborative efforts between Northwestern University's Yonggang Huang and the University of Illinois' John A. Rogers.
By using a process they call "ordered unraveling," the researchers said their battery can be stretched up to 300% of its original size without losing functionality. In a nutshell, the battery's design features energy storage islands and "a spring within a spring" wire connections are placed in a sheet of silicone. The silicone sheet provides the stretchable housing for the wires and energy islands, while the serpentine-like wiring goes along with the stretch of the polymer without being damaged.
The battery also contains the necessary electrical circuitry to support wireless charging, and according to the researchers, the battery has almost limitless industry applications, especially with the rising interest in flexible technology across consumer electronics.
As early as last year, we have seen efforts to improve lithium-ion battery technology from drilling nanoscopic holes to replacing their liquid electrolyte with jelly. However, none of them have seen any commercial success to date. The stretchy battery faces some technological constraints; this is due to the fact the current prototype loses some capacity after about 20 recharges. For more information, please view the full press release issued by the University of Illinois here. For an option to purchase the full-length research paper, do visit Nature Communication.