Washington: Stretchable electronics are the future of mobile electronics, researchers say.
University of Delaware’s Bingqing Wei is leading giants like 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 robotic devices and implantable electronics.
“Advances in soft and stretchable substrates and elastomeric materials have given rise to an entirely new field,” Wei said.
But even if scientists can engineer stretchable electronics – what about their energy source?
“Rechargeable and stretchable energy storage devices, also known as supercapacitors, are urgently needed to complement advances currently being made in flexible electronics,” Wei said.
Wei’s research group at the University is making significant progress in developing scalable, stretchable power sources for this type of application using carbon nanotube 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 behaviour using buckled single-wall nanotube (SWNT) electrodes and an elastomeric separator.
According to Wei, the supercapacitor 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.
The study has been published in the journal Nano Letters.