According to computer and electrical engineering professor John Madden, it works much like a regular alkaline battery, but can be recharged, stretched, and bent.
Imagine a battery that you can take in your hands, stretch to double its length, twist or put in the washing machine and which, despite everything, still works, he explains.
Its content is made of finely ground zinc and manganese dioxide, then embedded in a shell made of plastic polymers.
These compounds offer the advantage, unlike lithium-ion, of not being toxic, the researchers say, allowing these batteries to be worn close to the skin.
The postdoctoral fellow at the Faculty of Applied Sciences of theUBC Ngoc Tan Nguyen, who participated in the development of this invention with doctoral student Bahar Iranpour, explains that it could, once improved, have several applications.
Electronics in clothing is a market [à fort potentiel] and expandable stacks are essential to this development, he said.
This could include, for example, lighted shoes, or devices integrated into sports equipment to measure athletic performance.
John Madden adds that these batteries could also be used for medical devices, such as a portable heart monitor, which in some cases must be worn around the clock.
A person being discharged from the hospital could wear something that is much less intrusive and carry on with their daily life in a comfortable and safe manner., he notes.
Still years of development
It could be years before these batteries are available on a large scale, but John Madden says his lab is in contact with companies large and small who are interested in the project.
One of the team’s challenges is to create more powerful stacks, he says.
An unexpected feature of their invention is its resistance to at least thirty wash cycles.
We were excited to see that we could put the battery in the washing machine along with soap and other clothes and enough content remained to keep it functional., says John Madden.
With information from the show On the Coast