Wearable Electronics

Teresa Madaleno

A team of researchers led by faculty members from Binghamton University, has created a completely textile-based biobattery. The wearable device can produce maximum power similar to that produced by paper-based microbial fuel cells. Imagine a battery that could one day be integrated into wearable electronics.

For those who don’t know, a bio-battery is an energy-storing device powered by organic compounds, such as glucose in human blood. As enzymes in human bodies break down glucose, electrons and protons release.

According to Bing U News the new textile biobatteries have stable electricity-generating ability when they are tested under stretching and twisting conditions. Professor Seokheun Choi said, “There is a clear and pressing need for flexible and stretchable electronics that can be easily integrated with a wide range of surroundings to collect real-time information.”

The team has indicated that they chose a flexible, stretchable mini biobattery material because of their “sustainable, renewable and eco-friendly capabilities.”

Compared to traditional batteries, microbial fuel cells can be a suitable power source in terms of wearable electronics. This is due to the fact that the microbial cells provide stable enzymatic reactions and a long lifetime. As it turns out, sweat generated from the body can potentially fuel bacterial viability and thus provide for the operation of microbial fuel cells.

“If we consider that humans possess more bacterial cells than human cells in their bodies, the direct use of bacterial cells as a power resource interdependently with the human body is conceivable for wearable electronics,” said Choi.

Research into wearable electronics is nothing new. In fact, it is a concept that the medical industry has been working on for some time now. There are wearable devices that can monitor heart rate and other important health signals. They are what you call “next generation” lightweight electronics that are ultrathin or rubber and can adhere to the skin to provide precise measurements. The downside is that many of these devices don’t allow the skin to breath properly. This problem is being addressed though, as current research is looking at the development of an electrode made from nanoscale meshes containing water-soluble polymer and other materials considered compatible with the human body.