The battery utilizes a current collector, binder and separators that incorporate a nickel and polyurethane-coated polyester yarn. The composition allows the battery to be folded several thousand times without losing any of its functionality.
According to the researchers involved in the project, previous attempts at the technology have failed due to the batteries being too inflexible. More durable electrodes made by dipping cloth in nanoparticle solutions have been stronger but have an electrical resistance that is too high to allow them to store adequate amounts of energy.
The research team of Jang Wook Choi, Take-Soo Kim and Jung-Yong Lee, all of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, redesigned the electrodes utilizing nickel, which is highly conductive, and using it to coat the fabric. By using polyurethane fabric they were able to eliminate binding problems and allow the battery to maintain its integrity. Anodes and cathodes were made using conventional battery materials.
The product has been tested extensively and was found to be capable of being folded and unfolded ten thousand times. To date it has been utilized in a sweatshirt and a sweatband, but future applications may include other types of clothing, watches and backpacks. The units are sealed so that the fabric can be washed without concern of damaging the battery.
The batteries will be recharged using flexible solar cells that are also integrated into the fabric. Further development plans are to improve the batteries storage capabilities. The researchers anticipate that the new technology can be produced in already-established facilities.
For pictures and more details on this technology, click here.
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