The speedily advancing field of internet of things (IoT) is paving way for the wearable devices that are becoming an important part of our lives. Many companies are working to make these devices as inconspicuous and comfortable as possible. The biggest obstruction is the quality and bulky size of the batteries required to power these devices. Researchers are attempting to solve the problem by using batteries that can be printed directly on the fabrics.
Nazmul Karim, the Knowledge Exchange Fellow at the University of Manchester, is a co-author of a research paper based on the printed battery technology published in Journal ‘2D Materials’. Karim says,
“It will open up possibilities of making an environmentally friendly and cost-effective smart e-textile that can store energy and monitor human activity and physiological condition at the same time.”
Super-capacitors are used for powering wearable devices in conventional batteries. However, this new technology uses a solid-state flexible super-capacitor printed using conductive graphene-oxide ink on a cotton fabric. Cotton is particularly chosen for its excellent interaction with the ink to ensure exceptional stability of the electrodes.
Once the battery printing technology becomes prevalent, we will see wearable technologies in all fields, ranging from high tech sportswear and health wearables to military applications. Future patients might be monitored with tech clothing to deal with both healing and diagnosis problems. Dr. Karim says,
“The development of graphene-based flexible textile supercapacitor using a simple and scalable printing technique is a significant step towards realizing multifunctional next generation wearable e-textiles.”
The refinement of this technology may lead us to a future of wearable computers. Graphene based ink can be manufactured at a relatively low cost. Dr. Amor Abdelkader says,
“Textiles are some of the most flexible substrates, and for the first time, we printed a stable device that can store energy and be as flexible as cotton. The device is also washable, which makes it practically possible to use it for the future smart clothes. We believe this work will open the door for printing other types of devices on textile using 2D-materials inks.”
The paper based on this research was titled, “Inkjet Printing of Graphene Inks for Wearable Electronic Applications.” The abstract of the paper reads,
“Inkjet printing is one of the most promising techniques for the fabrication of wearable electronics due to the number of advantages over conventional manufacturing techniques such as digital and additive patterning, reduction in material waste, deposition of the controlled amount of materials and compatibility with various substrates.”