Concept: Korea Institute of Machinery and Materials (KIMM’s) Department of Nano-Mechanics has developed a lithium-ion battery that is flexible and stretchable like that of the snake. It can mimic snake’s scales and finds its application in soft robotics, and wearable technologies.
Nature of Disruption: The KIMM researchers developed a battery that has high stability and performs better when stretched like a snake’s scale. For the application in a wearable device, the battery is combined with it in a tight formation that enables flexible movement. The movement is possible by connecting several small batteries in a scale structure. The flexibility comes from its structure of small, hexagonal cells connected electrically with polymer and copper material used as a hinge to fold and unfold. High capacity per unit size is achieved by optimizing the shape of each battery cell. The battery comes with minimized deformation ability of the material and facilitates economical mass production inspired by the art of Origami. Researchers tested it to find out that it maintains its performance for more than 36,000 cycles stretched 90% and bent out of shape. It finds its application in search and rescue robots, or multifunctional soft robots with artificial muscles.
Outlook: Many inventions are coming up in electronics that change various industries in terms of capabilities any machine showcases. Machines such as robots or bionic arms are being developed that have high degrees of freedom that enhance their usage. Flexible devices have a static power supply that may hinder their features. KIMM researchers have developed a stretchable and flexible battery that takes inspiration from the snake’s scales. These flexible batteries can also be useful for energy storage in rehabilitation medical devices for the elderly and the sick who need physical assistance.