John Rogers, a physical chemist and materials engineer, and Yonggang Huang, a mechanical engineer, teamed up to develop something that sounds like it is straight out of a science fiction novel – a lithium-ion battery that can be stretched and folded. Because of its (pardon the pun) flexibility, this battery could be used in devices where conventional batteries just won’t work.
One example of an application for this battery that was given is rubber. An electronic device made with rubber will find difficulty in the power department due to the lack of flexibility in traditional batteries, which undermines one of the substrate’s key features. With this flexible battery, which can be stretched like the rubber, the problem is removed, enabling creative use of unconventional materials.
The battery is said to be rechargeable, and to last about eight to nine hours on a single charge, with a bonus feature of wireless charging support. The battery will continue to work whether it is in its default shape, or is twisted, stretched, or folded. The battery’s ability to stretch is astounding, with the inventors reporting that it can be pulled to 300-percent its default size and still work without any change in ability.
The battery works via a process called “ordered unraveling,” which involves wavy interconnects that form a “S” shape, with a smaller “S” within the larger one. When the battery is stretched, the wavy pattern is pulled taunt and smooth, and then the secondary S is also pulled taunt and smooth, giving the battery its stretching ability.
Get a more in depth look at this new foldable battery technology here.