Stretching towards a powerful future

Flexible printed electronics are fast becoming integrated into all aspects of our day-to-day lives. With the constantly reducing costs of conductive ink printing this is permitting circuit boards to be applied directly onto, or impregnated within flexible films. This exciting advance in technology has rapidly expanded development opportunities across a wide range of industries particularly within the added value/luxury packaging industry. The technology gives the potential to collect and store supply chain data, incorporate flexible displays and present decorative visuals for improved communication and reduction in sales errors.
The future sounds great, except for one thing – the power source? Could a recent development of stretchy battery material be the answer?
Constructed of printed lithium-ion cells, connected by wires and impregnated within silicon; this new battery can be stretched up to 300% of its original size. Preliminary testing has shown that the rechargeable battery can power an LED, even whilst being stretched.
The impact of this innovation is likely to have a significant influence on wearable electronics; a patient or athlete, either can benefit from accurate data collection and constant monitoring. Working very closely with the body, this battery could theoretically be attached to clothing, positioned onto joints i.e. knee and elbows, or even implanted inside the body for cardiovascular monitoring. The stretchy battery is still under the design and test phases of development and therefore does not hold enough energy to power sensors. With the current pace of technology development in the field it may not be so far-fetched to be prescribed with a flexible, self-powered device in the not so distant future.

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