Waterproof supercapacitor fabrics to be laser printed in minutes

Waterproof supercapacitor fabrics to be laser printed in minutes

Technology News |
By eeNews Europe

In just three minutes, the laser-based process can produce a 10x10cm smart textile patch that’s waterproof, stretchable and readily integrated with energy harvesting technologies. The technology enables graphene supercapacitors to be laser printed directly onto textiles.

In a proof-of-concept, the researchers connected the supercapacitor with a solar cell, delivering an efficient, washable and self-powering smart fabric that overcomes the key drawbacks of existing e-textile energy storage technologies. The growing smart fabrics industry has diverse applications in wearable devices for the consumer, health care and defence sectors – from monitoring vital signs of patients, to tracking the location and health status of soldiers in the field, and monitoring pilots or drivers for fatigue.

“Current approaches to smart textile energy storage, like stitching batteries into garments or using e-fibres, can be cumbersome and heavy, and can also have capacity issues,” explains Dr Litty Thekkakara, a researcher in RMIT’s School of Science.

“These electronic components can also suffer short-circuits and mechanical failure when they come into contact with sweat or with moisture from the environment. Our graphene-based supercapacitor is not only fully washable, it can store the energy needed to power an intelligent garment – and it can be made in minutes at large scale” she says. “By solving the energy storage-related challenges of e-textiles, we hope to power the next generation of wearable technology and intelligent clothing.”

The research analysed the performance of the proof-of-concept smart textile across a range of mechanical, temperature and washability tests and found it remained stable and efficient. RMIT Honorary Professor and Distinguished Professor at the University of Shanghai for Science and Technology, Min Gu, said the technology could enable real-time storage of renewable energies for e-textiles.

A 10x10cm smart textile patch produced in just three minutes.
Photo: RMIT University.

“It also opens the possibility for faster roll-to-roll fabrication, with the use of advanced laser printing based on multifocal fabrication and machine learning techniques,” Gu said. The researchers have applied for a patent for the new technology, which was developed with support from RMIT Seed Fund and Design Hub project grants.

The research published in Scientific Reports under the title “Large-scale waterproof and stretchable textile-integrated laser- printed graphene energy storages”, reports an areal capacitance, 49 mF cm−2, for the processed textile stretchable up to 200%, with an energy density of 6.73 mWh/cm−2.


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