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Smart Textiles

Conductive silver the key to new fabric battery

Fabric mechanically deforms or stretches and still provides electrical conduction pathways.

20th September 2023

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Houston, TX, USA

Sports/​Outdoor, Medical/Hygiene

A successful prototype of a fully stretchable fabric-based lithium-ion battery has been developed at the University of Houston (UH) in Texas, USA.

A major bottleneck in the development of the next generation of smart fabrics and wearable devices with embedded electronics is that conventional batteries are generally rigid, which limits functionality. Such products also use a liquid electrolyte, which raises safety concerns. Traditional organic liquid electrolytes are flammable and can potentially cause batteries containing them to catch fire or even explode under certain conditions.

The key to the UH research team’s breakthrough lies in the use of conductive silver fabric as a platform and current collector.

“The woven silver fabric mechanically deforms or stretches and still provides electrical conduction pathways necessary for the battery electrode to function well,” explained Haleh Ardebili, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at UH. “The battery electrode must allow movement of both electrons and ions.”

Ardebili is optimistic that the prototype will pave the way for many new applications

“Commercial viability depends on many factors such as scaling up the manufacturability of the product, cost and other factors,” she said. “We are working towards those considerations and goals as we optimise and enhance our stretchable battery, make sure the batteries are as safe as possible.”

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