Scale-inspired battery stretches and bends like a snake
A new battery design out of Korea Institute of Machinery and Materials promises to open up some interesting possibilities in energy storage, by bending and stretching like a snake. This ability to mimic the behavior of the creature's individual scales could see the serpentine-inspired battery find its way into the world of soft robotics, wearable electronics, or other applications where flexibility is a favorable attribute.
The innovative new battery design was cooked up as a more malleable energy storage solution for wearable devices and robots. The idea is to have a series of hard-but-small batteries connect to form an overlapping scale-like structure that can bend and morph with the device.
To achieve this, the scientists used small, hexagonal-shaped lithium-ion battery cells as the "scales" and electrically connected them with polymer and copper materials, which also act as a hinge to enable stable deformations without incurring damage. The shape of each of the hexagonal cells was also carefully optimized to maximize the battery's overall capacity.
The team's testing showed that the stretchable lithium battery could maintain its performance even when bent out of shape and subjected to a stretching ratio of 90 percent, across more than 36,000 cycles.
These unique capabilities could see the battery put to use in wearable soft robots for humans, such as those used by rehabilitation staff working with elderly patients. Other possibilities include search and rescue robots that need to work their way through narrow spaces in disaster settings, and multi-functional soft robots with artificial muscles. As they work toward this future, the scientists hope to improve on the design to boost the storage capacity.
The research was published in the journal Soft Robotics.
Source: National Research Council of Science & Technology via EurekAlert