Scientists Invent Battery That Folds, Stretches And Goes In The Washing Machine

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Battery: Major limitations of wearable electronic devices, the size and thickness of batteries, are being eliminated by researchers at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, Canada. Led by scientist Ngoc Tan Nguyen, a team was able to develop the first flexible, washable battery that works even if it is twisted or stretched to twice its length.

While extendable batteries already exist and are essential in the development of wearables, acknowledges Tan Nguyen in a UBC release, “until now, extendable batteries were not washable”, an addition that becomes crucial in equipment designed to “withstand the demands of the wearer. daily use.”

To achieve the desired result, the researchers first resolved the issue of the rigidity of common batteries, grinding the components (zinc and manganese dioxide were used) into small pieces, which were then incorporated into a rubberized plastic. Several ultra-thin layers of this polymer are then wrapped in a shell of the same material to form a fully hermetic and waterproof battery.

The article with the research results was published in late November in the scientific journal Advanced Energy Materials.

Research methodology

The drum development by Nguyen and his colleagues combined moments of sophisticated engineering advances with moments of improvisation. Co-author Bahar Iranpour, a doctoral student, suggested that the prototype be simply thrown into the washing machine to be tested in an actual wash cycle. The battery withstood 39 cycles, leaving intact and functional.

As for the choice of chemistry used to be zinc and manganese dioxide, Nguyen justifies the option saying that this “is a safer chemistry than that of lithium-ion batteries, which can produce toxic compounds when they break”, which does all the difference when it comes to a device worn directly on the skin.

The price of the new battery for consumers could be the same as an ordinary rechargeable battery, according to the researchers. “The materials used are incredibly cheap, so if it’s done on a large scale, it’s going to be cheap,” says professor of electrical and computer engineering John Madden, who also co-authored the work. In addition to wearables, batteries can be integrated into clothing that changes color or temperature.