Stretchy electronics may seem like something out of a science fiction book; a computer that can be attached to any surface? Yeah, science fiction, but alas, it may become more reasonable soon. The notion of advancing technology to being stretchy has been present for a while, and although there have been small things here and there of flexible technologies, roll up piano keyboards and other such practical stuff.
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The biggest issue that we’ve seen with flexible technology is the battery packs that are too bulky to fit within the parameters of anything flexible. Enter a flat, stretchy battery that can be pulled to three times its size without any loss in performance.
The new idea in Nature Communications uses small islands of energy storing materials that dot a stretchy polymer. This stretchy polymer is what gives the battery the ability to form to other surfaces and stretch out to being three times larger than the original shape.
The batteries, not only do they not need to be plugged in making recharging wirelessly, but the battery can be used in a variety of different ways. Not only will it be useful to the computer industry and advancements within the personal computers but also within the medical profession. Imagine, implantable health monitors to roll-up displays.
The S shape of the connections, or wires that loop back on themselves in a repeating S shape can hold the energy a little better than the original idea of having a pop up architecture of the circuitry before was to stretch with the polymer and pop up extra circuitry so that the battery could function while being stretched. The issue became that it couldn’t hold enough of the energy. The second idea was the S sharped circuitry, which expanded the S shape, keeping the current of the energy fixed within the circuit.
Of course right now, the charge capability of the battery still needs work, but right now it looks like the commercialization of the battery will eventually happen. So look out iPhone, next up is going to be some epic stretchy phones, please and thank-you.