Researchers Design New Device That Uses Body as a Battery

March 4, 2021 14:43:05

CU Boulder researchers have designed a low-cost wearable device that uses the human body as a biological battery. The device is made of a stretchy material that allows an individual to wear it as a bracelet, ring or other accessory. The device harnesses an individual’s natural heat and uses thermoelectric generators to turn the internal temperature of an individual’s body into electricity. The paper was published in the “Science Advances” journal.

Associate professor at the Paul M. Rady Department of Mechanical Engineering, Jianliang Xiao, who is also the paper’s senior author, stated that the future objective of the researchers is to be able to design a wearable electronic that doesn’t require a battery to work. The device designed by Xiao and his fellow researchers generates roughly a volt per cmof skin space.

This isn’t the first time researchers have experimented on thermoelectric wearable devices, but it is the first time a device that is fully recyclable and stretchy and that can repair itself when damaged, has been designed. This makes Xiao’s device a better, cleaner alternative to current wearable electronics.

Xiao stated that unlike other devices that use batteries which need to be replaced once they are depleted, the thermoelectric device developed by his team of researchers is not only wearable but also offers its user constant power. He added that because the device’s thermoelectric generators are in close contact with its user’s body, they use heat that would normally disperse into the environment.

Additionally, the device’s user can increase its power by adding generator blocks. Xiao likened this to Legos, explaining that an individual could combine smaller units in order to end up with a bigger unit, which he said, provided the user with a lot of customization options.

The new device is also as strong as biological tissue. For instance, if the device tears, pinching the broken ends together for a few minutes allows it to seal back up.

Xiao declared that the team was trying to make the devices as reliable and cheap as possible, while also ensuring they had zero effect on the environment. He noted that while there were still a few flaws that the researchers needed to work out in the product’s design, the devices could appear on the market in the next five or ten years.

The paper was co-authored by researchers from the Huazhong University of Science and TechnologyTongji UniversityZhejiang UniversitySoutheast University and the Harbin Institute of Technology.

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