Your Clothes May Soon Charge Your Phone
A picture of lithium-ion battery fibre. (PHOTO: Fudan University)
By BI Weizi
Wirelessly charging your phone through the smart clothes you wear is a scenario that may sound like science fiction, but is gradually becoming a reality. This is one of the research projects of a team headed by Peng Huisheng, director of the Department of Macromolecular Science, Fudan University.
The research results were published in Nature on September 1, under the title of "Scalable production of high-performing woven lithium-ion fibre batteries."
Energy from wearable devices
As the heart of modern electronic devices, energy storage devices represented by lithium-ion batteries are an indispensable part of the modern electronics industry and people's lives. Since 2008, Huisheng Peng's team has been researching new flexible battery systems, and in 2013, they proposed and realized a new fiber lithium-ion battery, which provides the opportunity to meet the energy supply needs of wearable devices, such as smart electronic fabrics.
"Fiber lithium-ion batteries are like wool; to weave a sweater that can be charged, one must ensure that the wool is long enough," is how team members He Jiqing and Lu Chenhao, co-authors of the paper and doctoral students in the Department of Macromolecular Science at Fudan University, described the challenge.
The team members broke through previous research ideas by extensively trying out fiber collector materials with different electrical properties, through extensive pre-experimental screening, and finally discovered and revealed the change law, meaning that the internal resistance of fiber lithium-ion batteries first decreases and then gradually stabilizes with increasing length.
Fibre lithium-ion batteries can then be woven into safe and washable textiles by an industrial rapier loom, and can wirelessly charge a cell phone or power a health management jacket integrated with fibre sensors and a textile display.
Broad application prospects
The lithium-ion battery showed encouraging overall performance and shows broad application prospects. It can continuously and effectively power wearable electronic devices such as smartphones, bracelets, heart rate monitors and blood oxygen meters for long periods of time, and even maintain a more stable performance under harsh environments such as repeated washing and extrusion.