The first flexible and washable battery

Researchers have just developed a battery that could launch a new era for connected clothing. Flexible and stretchable, it can also be washed in the washing machine without being damaged.

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The connected clothes and other electronic devices worn on a daily basis encounter a serious obstacle. Many advances now allow the creation of flexible and washable electronic circuits, but the power supply poses a problem. A team of researchers from University of British Columbia has the solution with the first flexible battery and washable. They detailed their discovery in the review Advanced Energy Materials.

Their battery is based on zinc and dioxide manganese, usually used to create electrodes in a form solid. To make it flexible, they reduced them to powder and integrated into a polymer biocompatible. They superimposed several thin layers, which they then wrapped with this same polymer. The result is a batterie flexible and stretchable.

A very affordable battery

The researchers then came up with the idea of ​​checking that the battery was properly sealed by passing it through a washing machine. Their prototype underwent 39 cycles of lavage in domestic and industrial washing machines without degradation. They chose to create a zinc-manganese battery because these elements are much less toxic than batteries lithium-ion. The battery should therefore not pose a problem if it breaks when worn next to the skin.

The choice of materials should also allow a very low production cost. The researchers hope that when their battery is ready to market, it will be produced at the same price as a rechargeable battery classic. It can then be integrated into connected watches, from sensors worn directly on the skin or in connected clothes.

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