The battery revolution: MIT creates a rechargeable, flexible and washable

The battery revolution: MIT creates a rechargeable, flexible and washable

The key to the development of technologies will largely depend on the potential that researchers are able to extract from batteries. This will not only influence electronic devices, but mobility and the cities of the future.

The information office of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), one of the most prestigious entities in the world of research, has reported one of its latest findings: the longest flexible fiber battery in the world.

It is a device that measures 140 meters and has countless qualities that make it extremely relevant for the future of batteries. According to the US agency, the rechargeable lithium-ion battery arranged in the shape of an ultra-long fiber It can be used in a wide variety of portable electronic devices, woven into fabrics, or even allow 3D printed batteries to be manufactured in virtually any shape.

Likewise, the researchers envision “new possibilities for self-powered communications, sensing, and computational devices that could be used like ordinary clothing, as well as devices whose batteries could also double as structural parts ».

Autonomous fiber

Previously, fibers have been developed that contain a wide variety of electronic components, including light-emitting diodes (LEDs), photosensors, communications, and digital systems. Many of these are wearable and washable, making them practical for use in portable products, but all of these have so far relied on an external power source. Now, this fiber battery, which is also wearable and washable, could allow such devices to be completely autonomous.

The new fiber battery is manufactured using new battery gels and a standard fiber drawing system which starts with a larger cylinder that contains all the components and then heats it to just below its melting point. The material is drawn through a narrow opening to compress all the pieces to a fraction of their original diameter, keeping all the original arrangement of the pieces.

“This system embeds lithium and other materials within the fiber, with a protective outer coating, which makes this version stable and waterproof. This is the first demonstration of a less than kilometer long fiber battery that it is long enough and highly durable for practical applications »explains Tural Khudiyev, an assistant professor at the National University of Singapore.

A demonstration device using the new fiber battery incorporated a «Li-Fi» communication system, one in which pulses of light are used to transmit data, and included a microphone, preamplifier, transistor, and diodes to establish an optical data link between two woven fabric devices.

Furthermore, the resulting fiber battery it is much thinner and more flexible, producing an aspect ratio, that is, the fraction of length to width, up to one million, which makes it practical to use standard weaving equipment to create fabrics that incorporate batteries as well as electronic systems.

3d print

The material can also be used in 3D printing or custom-shaped systems to create solid objects, such as housings that could provide both the structure of a device and its power supply. To demonstrate this ability, a toy submarine was wrapped in battery fiber to provide power. Incorporating the power supply into the structure of such devices could reduce the overall weight and therefore improve the efficiency and range they can achieve.

The team you have already applied for a patent on the process and continues to develop new improvements in power capacity and variations in the materials used to improve efficiency. Khudiyev claims that such fiber batteries could be ready for use in commercial products in a few years.

The research was supported by the MIT MRSEC program of the National Science Foundation, the United States Army Research Laboratory through the Institute of Nanotechnologies for Soldiers, the Graduate Research Fellowship Program of the National Science Foundation, and the National Research Foundation of Korea.