Fudan woven battery

One problem with wearable technology and other mobile devices is that they require power to operate. For low-power devices, energy harvesting can be a solution, but most require stored electricity which is why we rely so heavily on batteries. Imagine that you simply wore the power you needed to get your devices through the day. Well, researchers at Fudan University in Shanghai, China believe that they may have the answer. They have created lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries that can actually be woven into textiles that can be made into garments.

Safety is a major concern for wire-shaped Li-ion batteries. They have to be able to survive bending and stretching without short-circuiting. A group led by Professor H. Peng has developed a way to wrap the cathode and anode materials in separate spirals of carbon nanotubes (CNTs). These two conductive yarns can then be combined with a separator to create a battery that is thin, flexible, and stretchable. Their experimental device was able to store 17.7 mWh per cubic centimeter, which is higher than planar Li-ion designs.

We still have way to go before you can plan on plugging in your sports coat at night, but if this technology can be developed for commercial production, it can change how we think about powering our wearable and mobile devices.