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Novel power source targets wearable electronics

Posted: 22 Dec 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Case Western Reserve University? wearable electronics? microsupercapacitor? titanium?

Case Western Reserve University researchers have created flexible wire-shaped microsupercapacitors that according to them can be woven into a jacket, shirt or dress, paving the way for developing a power source for wearable electronics. By their design or by connecting the capacitors in series or parallel, the devices can be tailored to match the charge storage and delivery needs of electronics donned, the team indicated.

While there's been progress in development of those electronics, body cameras, smart glasses, sensors that monitor health, activity trackers and more, one challenge remaining is providing less obtrusive and cumbersome power sources.

"The area of clothing is fixed, so to generate the power density needed in a small area, we grew radially-aligned titanium oxide nanotubes on a titanium wire used as the main electrode," said Liming Dai, the Kent Hale Smith professor of macromolecular science and engineering at the university. "By increasing the surface area of the electrode, you increase the capacitance."

Dai and Tao Chen, a postdoctoral fellow in molecular science and engineering at Case Western Reserve, published their research on the microsupercapacitor in the journal Energy Storage Materials. The study builds on earlier carbon-based supercapacitors.

Wire-shaped microsupercapacitors

Schematic illumination of procedures for constructing the wire-shaped microsupercapacitors based on a wire-shaped electrode made from a titanium (Ti) wire sheathed with radially aligned titania nanotubes and wrapped with highly-aligned carbon nanotube yarn or sheet.

A capacitor is cousin to the battery, but offers the advantage of charging and releasing energy much faster.

In this supercapacitor, the modified titanium wire is coated with a solid electrolyte made of polyvinyl alcohol and phosphoric acid. The wire is then wrapped with either yarn or a sheet made of aligned carbon nanotubes, which serves as the second electrode. The titanium oxide nanotubes, which are semiconducting, separate the two active portions of the electrodes, preventing a short circuit.

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