Researchers develop stretchable solar cells and batteries that can be applied to skin like band-aid
Scientists have left no stone unturned to figure out how to exploit electronics in wearable systems or devices, like fabrics or shoes. Researchers at Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Illinois have developed stretchable and soft batteries and solar cells that are thin enough to be applied to human skin like a band-aid. According to the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences, the batteries and cells are arranged as array of thin, milimetre-scale components (2.5 millimetres), which are interconnected together with spring-like wiring.
This array is embedded into a thin layer of soft rubber. A coat of stiffer rubber is applied to the top and bottom, and the outcome is a stretchable and soft, stretchy system. The core layer is super-soft and active components float in it, protected by robust interface. The system can tolerate 30 percent stretching without compromising power generation capacity.
According to the researchers, the prospective use of this technology can range from monitoring skin temperature to full measurement of vital signs via ECG, blood pressure, respiration rate and blood oxygenation. Biggest beneficiaries would be patients suffering from muscular or neurological disorders, such as motor neuron or Parkinson’s disease. Further, situations like hyperthermia and frostbite could be prevented using device’s ability to monitor temperature in extreme conditions.
Until now, modest electrical performance and rigidity of materials posed as biggest challenge while envisioning soft, stretchy, miniature electronic devices. But researchers are hopeful to change the scenario with their groundbreaking innovation. The team hopes to make the device commercial in next two years.