Going hand in hand with the development of wearable electronic textiles, researchers are also pushing the development of wearable and flexible energy storage to power those e-textiles. Researchers have now developed wearable textile batteries that can be integrated with flexible solar cells and thus be recharged by solar energy. The team found unconventional materials for all of the key battery components and integrated them into a fully wearable battery.
Researchers are working hard to find inexpensive alternatives to platinum catalysts for use in hydrogen fuel cells. Doped carbons were discovered to be a possible alternative to platinum-based materials about five years ago. Researchers have now developed a really simple route to carbon materials that perform almost as well as a commercial platinum/carbon in a key fuel cell reaction. To make these materials, they use gelatin - the same gelatin you'd use to make jelly/jello.
Over the past few years, we have seen an explosion of interest in electronic devices based on paper or textile components. These substrates are attractive because they can impart flexibility and low- cost manufacturing to devices such as transistors, circuits, light-emitting diodes, and batteries. They also can be folded. Researchers now have have shown that paper-folding concepts can be applied to Li-ion batteries in order to realize a device with higher areal energy densities.
Oxygen is an advantageous battery storage material as it is freely available from the air and does not need to be carried with the other battery components. Unlike the lithium-ion batteries used today, lithium-oxygen batteries do not require metal oxide cathodes to produce electrochemical power, instead generating power from reactions with oxygen in the atmosphere. A new class of rechargeable batteries - 'molten air' batteries - suses highly conductive molten electrolytes and very high capacity multiple electron compounds such as carbon and vanadium diboride. Unlike prior rechargeable molten batteries, the molten air battery is not burdened by the weight of the active chargeable cathode material.
In new work, researchers have demonstrated that flexible cotton threads can be used as a platform to fabricate a cable-type supercapacitor. Wearable electronics will go far beyond just very small electronic devices or wearable, flexible computers. Not only will these devices be embedded in textile substrates but an electronics device or system could ultimately become the fabric itself. Supercapacitors with a cable-type architecture could lead to flexible energy storage devices that can remove traditional restriction and achieve a subversive technology that could open up a path for design innovation.
With the semiconductor industry still on the path of Moore's law, researchers have already been toying with single-molecule electronics and molecular memory to push miniaturization of electronics to its limit. However, with electrical gadgets and devices getting increasingly smaller and functionally more powerful, the current density flowing through the copper and gold conductors in these devices has been exponentially increasing. Therefore, electrical conductors with higher current density tolerance are in huge demand and recent research has addressed this issue.
Microbial fuel cells are a prime example of environmental biotechnology that turns the treatment of organic wastes into a source of electricity. In microbial fuel cells, the naturally occurring decomposing pathways of electrogenic bacteria are used to both clean water and produce electricity by oxidizing biological compounds from wastewater and other liquid wastes, even urine. Researchers have now demonstrated a sustainable and practical design for a micro-sized microbial fuel cell.
Researchers in Korea have found that rice husks - the outer, protective covering of a rice kernel - can be a source of silicon that can be used for high-capacity lithium battery anodes. Most of today's lithium-ion batteries rely on anodes made from graphite, a form of carbon. There are several candidate electrodes to replace graphite as the anode for lithium-ion batteries and silicon has been recognized as a favorable anode material because its capacity is 3-5 times larger than those of existing graphite anodes. The new work demonstrates that rice husks can be used to produce silicon with an ideal porous nanostructure for use in high-capacity lithium-ion battery anodes.