The image that illustrates this article is a robot-submarine and the rope that we see around it is nothing other than the battery that transmits energy. MIT researchers have created A rechargeable, lithium-ion battery in an ultra-long flexible fiber shape that can fit all types of devices, from wearables to other 3D-printed objects of virtually any shape.
As a demonstration, the team led by Professor Tural Khudiyev has created a 140-meter-long battery, to show that it is capable of making them. But from MIT they aim even further, by ensuring that under this method they can create batteries of the size we need. “There is no maximum limit established for its length. We could make it one kilometer”, they assure.
Flexible batteries open up a world of possibilities
This new style of drums is becoming more and more consistent. Large manufacturers are already beginning to develop slightly flexible batteries for their devices, but in the academic world they already envision electronics where the batteries can fully adapt to the structure of the device they want to power. From MIT they put connected clothing as an example, where these batteries could work almost like the threads of the seams.
The investigation has been published in Materials Today magazine and among its authors are various professors from MIT, the University of Singapore and some postdocs currently working at Apple.
In the past the members of this team demonstrated that with these batteries they could power LEDs, photosensors and other digital systems. This battery is flexible and washable, so it is capable of working in devices that face adverse conditions, such as the robotic submarine.
Protective gels and a fiber cable containing all the components have been used to manufacture the 140 meter fiber-battery. What is done is that this tip is heated below its melting point. With this what they do is compress all the pieces, but keep the original arrangement and they keep it doing its job.
With this method they are able to embed the lithium inside the fiber and then they only need a protective outer coating to make it durable.
140 meter cable has a capacity of 123 mAh, enough to charge small phones or smart watches. Not for long, but it is ultimately a prototype to show that the technology works.
The thickness is also striking, since the fiber has only a few hundred micrometers thick. That is, about a tenth of a millimeter or just over the thickness of human hair (50 μm).
Another advantage of flexible batteries in the form of fiber is that they can integrate several devices. The researchers believe that three to four batteries can be combined in the same fiber. We are facing significant progress and the MIT team has already started the process for its patent.
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