Research identifies a special "forest" design made of folded nanotubes that revolutionizes the power supply of the devices of the future.
The new supercapacitor demonstrates great performance and stability, even when it is "stretched" and folded back on itself for over 800% of its original size.
The results of a research team funded by the US Department of Agriculture and appearing in the journal Advanced Energy Materials, may trigger the development of new elastic and wearable electronic systems, and advanced biomedical devices.
"The key to success is the innovative approach to folding these carbon nanotubes on multiple layers, to create real nanoforests," says Changyong Cao, project director at Michigan State University.
Imagine smart skin patches that feed on their own while monitoring the healing status of a burnt patient.
"Instead of having only one layer rigidly preformed and limited in the manufacturing phase, our three-dimensional design allows carbon nanotubes to maintain excellent electrical conductivity by acquiring more efficiency, reliability and robustness".
Most of the public has known the concept of "wearable device" since the advent of smart watches, devices in contact with our mobile phones: it is a first basic example that already shows us two devices that need power.
Now imagine special patches made of "intelligent skin", which are able to evaluate in real time the recovery of a patient with burns without needing a diet: this is the future that Changyong Cao's invention can contribute to create.
In the medical field, the elastic and wearable electronic devices under study need to "stretch" to conform to surfaces of all kinds, to integrate into biological organs and tissues and communicate "from the inside" the conditions of patients or the existence of a disease.
The current problem is nutrition
just to give an idea, it is currently complicated to equip a patient with "light" devices, if then to keep them on they will always have to carry heavy batteries that require continuous maintenance.
The developments of this new invention are the first to use nanotubes folded back on themselves to form small trees in a forest "tall" just 10 to 30 nanometers.Changyong Cao, Michigan State University.
Other designs lose efficiency and can only be ironed in one direction, still others start to malfunction at the first stress.
With the "nanoforest" configuration, the batteries will be able to develop the ability to stretch and change like a blanket, adapting to any shape: these are qualities that far exceed all those of current supercapacitors.