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Flexible batteries spark up in smart textiles

Flexible batteries spark up in smart textiles

Posting in Design

A team of researchers have created flexible batteries that can be woven into smart textiles.

A team of researchers based at the Polytechnic School of Montreal in Canada have designed a flexible battery that can be woven into fabric.

Led by Maksim Skorobogatiy, the team managed to create smart textiles by sandwiching themoplastic materials together. This consisted of merging lithium iron phosphate cathodes (LiFePO4) and lithium titanium anodes (Li4Ti5O12) with solid polyethylene oxide (PEO) electrodes in between each layer.

When each layer is exposed to mild heat, the materials are able to be stretched and drawn in to singular fibers, which can then be used within the smart textile weaving process. Once the battery is assembled and has gone through the heating process, long strips can be woven in to a garment --  conductive threads connecting the series of batteries within normal fabric.

As an assembled garment does not require the liquid electrolytes found in typical household batteries, it is considered safe for wear.

"It's the first fully wearable, soft lithium-ion battery that uses no liquid electrolytes." Skorobogatiy says.

The team claim that a singular garment could potentially provide hundreds of volts; enough to charge your essential gadgets or used as a defibrillator -- as such, the battery garments could be used to assist people with cardiac arrhythmias and deliver a dose of electricity to a struggling heart.

The technology is not yet waterproof, so until the team develop a way to solve this issue, we're unlikely to see any commercial or medical use of the technique.

The research project is published in the Journal of the Electrochemical society. A presentation is also available -- 'Developing a living, breathing tee-shirt' (.pdf).

Image credit: Polytechnic School of Montreal

(via: New Scientist)

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Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure