How Art Inspired the Creation of Stretchable Batteries

New battery could be integrated into wearable electronics.

Believe it or not, origami (yes, the Japanese art of paper folding) has inspired a new battery technology. The engineers behind it say the historic art form has helped them create stretchable batteries that could eventually be integrated into wearable electronics.

In the past, engineers have used origami as inspiration for foldable batteries that can flex. However, the researchers say this marks the first time a lithium-ion battery has been made stretchable.  The engineers from Arizona State University used kirigami – a variation of origami – to design the template for their battery, which is capable of stretching to approximately 150 percent of its original size while remaining functional.

The engineers produced the lithium-ion battery using a slurry coating (i.e. graphite as an anode and LiCoO2 as a cathode), along with a standard packaging procedure. The team then added folds and cuts to establish patterns, which enabled the batteries to stretch. Unlike previous origami attempts, the team’s technique forms an even surface after stretching. 


Source: Jessica Hochreiter/ASU

The group sewed the battery into a smart watch wristband to test its efficiency. They stretched the band in various ways and concluded that the battery powered all of the watch’s functions. Watch the video above to see the technology in action.

The team says its device is compatible with mainstream battery production techniques, meaning it could be mass produced.  “This type of battery could potentially be used to replace the bulky and rigid batteries that are limiting the development of compact wearable electronic devices,” said Hanqing Jiang, an associate professor at Arizona State University’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

The engineering professor added his technology could also be used in fabrics, including smart clothing. Jiang and his team recently publish a paper detailing the challenges of creating a stretchable battery in the journal Scientific Reports. For more information, visit Arizona State University’s website.

Do you think a stretchable battery would be useful? Let us know by commenting below.