A new flat and stretchy battery has been unveiled by researchers from Northwestern University and the University of Illinois. Scientists have demonstrated the new elastic battery can be pulled and stretched to three times its original size. Watch the stretchy battery in action in the video below.
The demonstration follows a new publication in Nature Communications, “Stretchable Batteries With Self-Similar Serpentine Interconnects And Integrated Wireless Recharging Systems.” The BBC explains the new flexible batteries work using small dots of energy-storing material scattered over a flexible and elastic polymer. One of the most innovative developments in the field of elastic batteries is that these batteries can also be recharged wirelessly over a short distance.
“We have explored various methods, ranging from radio frequency energy harvesting to solar power,” senior author of the research paper, John Rogers told BBC News. “Batteries are particularly challenging because, unlike electronics, it’s difficult to scale down their dimensions without significantly reducing performance.”
As the BBC notes, there are not a great number of flexible electronics that require the use of a malleable battery currently on the market; however, with the development of this new technology, that would be expected to change as the technology becomes more readily available. At the 2013 CES tradeshow in Las Vegas, Samsung unveiled a prototype for a new flexible smart phone.
The new project has human health applications it its sights. “The most important applications will be those that involve devices integrated with the outside of the body, on the skin, for health, wellness and performance monitoring,” Rogers said.
In January this year, a team of Korean researchers from the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology also unveiled a flexible battery, reported in the Telegraph to be a “fluid-like” polymer. Last year, Korean scientists invented a folding battery.
Currently, elastic batteries are only able to withstand around twenty recharges before failing. Increasing the longevity of the new stretchy battery is necessary before any commercial applications can be put in place.