A Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology team has demonstrated a process for “cost-effective and scaleable” laser printing of stretchable, washable textiles able to store energy.
A 10 centimetre by 10 centimetre patch of graphene-based smart textiles could be printed in three minutes using the technique, according to work published in the journal Scientific Reports.
Thekkakara co-wrote the paper with Min Gu, RMIT Honorary Professor and Distinguished Professor at the University of Shanghai for Science and Technology.
The team made a proof-of-concept with a solar cell linked to the wearable, waterproof textile, showing it could overcome key limitations to current smart fabric energy storage methods.
“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,” said Dr Litty Thekkakara, an RMIT researcher, in a statement.
“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.
A patent application has been lodged for the technology, supported by the university’s RMIT Seed Fund and Design Hub project grants.
Picture Dr Litty Thekkakara (image from RMIT)
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