Developed flexible thin-film batteries for wearable electronics

Scientists at Rice University have created an ultra-thin, flexible yet high-performance battery. It does not contain lithium, and its thickness is only hundredths of a centimeter. This technology can find applications in wearable electronics, such as smartwatches or fitness bracelets.

Flexible batteries hold an attractive prospect because their creation could lead to new wearable gadgets. It should be noted that thin batteries appeared before, but their performance was an order of magnitude less than the overall lithium-ion counterparts. Few people want to carry a gadget with a heavy and bulky battery on their wrist all day long.

Chemist James Tour and his colleagues were able to create high-performance electrodes by etching a 900-nanometer layer of nickel fluoride with evenly spaced nanometer holes, which gave additional space for energy storage. Then the electrodes were dressed in an electrolyte made of potassium hydroxide.

According to scientists, the resulting device behaves like a battery, although it has the structure of a supercapacitor. In fact, it can be both: it can be discharged almost instantly, or it can be discharged slowly, limiting the discharge by amperage.

The thickness of the flexible battery is only hundredths of a centimeter. As for durability, everything is in order here too: the battery retains 76% of its original capacity even after 10, 000 charge-discharge cycles and 1000 bending cycles.

The technology could find application in wearable, flexible electronics. Scientists are already in talks with companies interested in large-scale production of thin batteries.