Technology

Can your shoes and shirt charge your phone?

Image: MIT.

MIT engineers built the PoC from a flexible lithium-ion battery that could one day be woven into clothing and open up a whole new field of communication, sensors, and wearable computing devices.

The group of engineers designed the longest flexible fiber battery in the world, measuring 140 meters in length. The aim of the project was to show that the material can be manufactured to any desired length and used in 3D printing projects, for example to power electronic device housings.

The group’s work focuses on “fibers as the building blocks of fabrics and 3D printed objects” that could allow the creation of “ubiquitous multidimensional energy systems.” The great thing about a long, flexible battery is that it is needed to create 3D power systems. Its approach is based on electroactive gels, particles and polymers within a flexible protective layer.

Strength and flexibility

The fiber battery has a proven capacity of around 123 mAh, which according to Tural Khudiyev, one of the lead authors of the article, is enough to charge smartphones or phones. The fiber itself is a few hundred microns thick and thinner than all other fiber batteries.

The researchers say in the article that this battery “meets the requirements of portable electronic systems because it is machine washable, flexible, usable under water and resistant to fire and breakage.”

One of the main differences from previous fiber batteries is that lithium and other materials are found inside the fiber, protected by an outer coating, which makes it stable and waterproof. Tural Khudiyev says the engineers could “certainly make a kilometer-long battery out of flexible cloth.”

“When we embed the active materials inside the fiber, it means that the sensitive components of the battery already have a good seal,” explains the engineer at MIT News.

LED demonstration

The technique is also believed to allow for finer and more flexible designs than are currently possible and which can be woven with standard weaving equipment.

The researchers demonstrated an LED integrated with a lithium-ion battery on a single fiber, which could be extended to multiple devices in the future. “When we integrate these fibers that contain multiple devices, the aggregate will advance the realization of a compactly structured computer,” said Jung Tae Lee, a professor at Kyung Hee University in South Korea and a former postdoc at MIT.

3D printing also has the potential to create custom or 3D shapes, such as envelopes that provide structure and a source of energy. The researchers demonstrated a toy submarine wrapped in a 20-meter fiber battery, showing how they could reduce the weight of the device and thus improve its efficiency and range.

The other advantage of 3D printing scenarios is that since the battery material is inside the fiber, there is no need for further integration after printing.

Source: .com

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