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Hyper-Stretchable Elastic-Composite Nanogenerator

Recently, flexible gadgets began to make their impact on the consumer market, and their expanding popularity has inspired the development of new technologies in almost every industry. Wearable gadgets and clothing, flexible displays on mobile devices, health-care products, and even the Internet of Things (IoT), all stand to benefit from the use of flexible technology.

But just how flexible is this flexible technology?

This is a very important concern for many industries who wish to make this technology the basis for their products. If we consider items like electronic skins, smartclothes, biomedical devices and implants, these items should be able to expand and contract over curved surfaces and accommodate for moving joints, diaphragms and tendons. One would expect such products to be able to effortlessly withstand the continuous and prolonged strains of expansion and contraction.

Yes, so what's the catch?

Well, perhaps the most limiting factor in the incorporation of flexible technology would be the lack of an effective and physically flexible power source. For electronic technology to be as malleable as we want it, we have to find a usable power supply that is equally as compliant. Several researchers have explored and tested various stretchable electronics, but the lack of appropriate device structures have limited the development of effective, ultra-stretchable and fully-reversible energy converting devices. In turn, this has also placed a binding limit on the current use of flexible technology. But that's all about change.

Recently, a team composed of researchers from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology's (KAIST) and Seoul National University (SNU) revealed a simple technique of creating an effective and hyper-stretchable elastic-composite generator using long silver stretchable electrodes of a nanowire base. The research team, headed by KAIST's Professor Keon Jae Lee, was successful in creating the most efficient and hyper-flexible nanogenerator to-date, it outperforms its predecessors in almost every aspect from strain capacity to mechanical stability and even commercial feasibility.

“This exciting approach introduces an ultra-stretchable piezoelectric generator. It can open avenues for power supplies in universal wearable and biomedical applications as well as self-powered ultra-stretchable electronics.” said Professor Lee.

With an elasticity of about 250%, and excellent durability, the piezoelectric generator is capable of gathering enough mechanical energy to produce an output of 4 V. The new SEG can be incorporated in a large range of wearable energy harvesters, effortlessly converting body or machine movement to electrical energy.

Have a look.


Image: Flickr's Creative Commons

Video: YouTube

Mvusi Ngubane

About Mvusi Ngubane

I am: A shoddy idealist or a fantasist in denial. A writer & creator of content. A storyteller, a story-seeker and, occasionally, a conveyor of obscure perspectives.

Mvusi Ngubane

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