Researchers from the University of Glasgow’s Bendable Electronics and Sensing Technologies (BEST) group have developed a new form of solar-powered supercapacitor. The next-gen design has the potential to generate lighter and more energy-efficient wearable technology.
Today’s wearable systems center on hefty, fixed batteries, which can lead to consumer discomfort. The new supercapcitor can power flexible health sensors that conform to the user’s body. Not only does this offer greater comfort, but it also provides a more reliable method for data collection due to the sensors’ constant contact with skin.
The supercapacitor itself consists of 3D, flexible, porous foam, which is formed from both silver and graphene. This combination allows the device to store and release roughly three times more power than any comparable flexible supercapacitor currently available.
To prove its worth, the BEST team demonstrated steady power across 25,000 charging and discharging cycles.
Upping the design, the device also sports an integrated, malleable, solar-powered skin—a feature that was previously created by the BEST group. With this added element, the entire system can self-charge.
A pH sensor was also included, which monitors the user’s sweat to gather important health analytics.
According to Professor Dahiya, leader of the BEST team, “We’re very pleased by the progress this new form of solar-powered supercapacitor represents. A flexible, wearable health monitoring system which only requires exposure to sunlight to charge has a lot of obvious commercial appeal, but the underlying technology has a great deal of additional potential.”
“This research could take the wearable systems for health monitoring to remote parts of the world where solar power is often the most reliable source of energy, and it could also increase the efficiency of hybrid electric vehicles. We’re already looking at further integrating the technology into flexible synthetic skin which we’re developing for use in advanced prosthetics,” Professor Dahiya adds.
Read the full research report, “Flexible Self-Charging Supercapacitor Based on Graphene-Ag-3-D Graphene Foam Electrodes,” published in the journal Nano Energy.