Sci­en­tists de­sign fab­rics that can store charge

The Hindu - - SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY - Press Trust of In­dia

A ma­jor fac­tor hold­ing back de­vel­op­ment of wear­able biosen­sors for health mon­i­tor­ing is the lack of a light­weight, lon­glast­ing power sup­ply. Now, sci­en­tists at the Univer­sity of Mas­sachusetts Amherst in the US have de­vel­oped a method for mak­ing a charge-stor­ing sys­tem that is eas­ily in­te­grated into cloth­ing.

“Bat­ter­ies or other kinds of charge stor­age are still the lim­it­ing com­po­nents for most por­ta­ble, wear­able, in­gestible or flex­i­ble tech­nolo­gies. The de­vices tend to be some com­bi­na­tion of too large, too heavy and not flex­i­ble,” said Trisha L An­drew, who led the study pub­lished in

ACS Ap­plied Ma­te­ri­als & In­ter­faces.

The method uses a mi­cro-su­per­ca­pac­i­tor and com­bines vapour-coated con­duc­tive threads with a poly­mer film, plus a spe­cial sewing tech­nique to cre­ate a flex­i­ble mesh of aligned elec­trodes on a tex­tile back­ing.

The re­sult­ing solid­state de­vice has a high abil­ity to store charge for its size, and has other char­ac­ter­is­tics that al­low it to power wear­able biosen­sors.

While re­searchers have re­mark­ably minia­turised many dif­fer­ent elec­tronic cir­cuit com­po­nents, un­til now the same could not be said for charge-stor­ing de­vices.

“We show that we can lit­er­ally em­broi­der a charge-stor­ing pat­tern on to any gar­ment us­ing the vapour-coated threads that our lab makes,” said An­drew.

Re­searchers are work­ing on in­cor­po­rat­ing the new em­broi­dered chargestor­age ar­rays with e-tex­tile sen­sors and low-power mi­cro­pro­ces­sors to build smart gar­ments that can mon­i­tor a per­son’s gait and joint move­ments through­out a nor­mal day.

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