Supercapacitor fibers that can serve as a power source for wearable technologies have been developed recently by a team of scientists from Deakin University, Australia. The researchers have spun two-dimensional “MXene,” into fibrous strands, which can, according to researcher Shayan Seyedin, provide an alternative to bulky batteries for charging gadgets.
The scientists from the Institute for Frontier Materials at Deakin envision that one day garments containing the super-capacitor fibers can help charge a mobile phone by just slipping it into a pocket that has the fibers.
The new development comes from a process improvement where MXene, which is commonly not spinnable, is integrated with graphene sheets evolved as fibrous strands. Energy gets stored in the microscopic spaces of the MXene-graphene fibrous strands. The supercapacitor fibers showed high capacitance and electrical conductivity with good strength and flexibility, enabling them to be made into wearable clothing.
The team, led by Deakin associate professor Joselito Razal, has been working on the process improvement to get spinnable strands for three years. The next task for the researchers is to make the structures more flexible and washable.
MXene offers good metallic conductivity and electrochemical properties and hence attracts researchers to develop new technologies using this material. Cost, washability and durability are challenges that need to be overcome in wearable electronics. However, due to novel applications and limitless opportunities for R & D in this field, wearable electronics attracts multidisciplinary researchers.
The research was published in a recent edition of Journal of Materials Chemistry A.
Seshadri Ramkumar, PhD, FTA (Honorary), is professor in the Nonwovens & Advanced Materials Laboratory at Texas Tech University.