A jacket that generates and stores energy has been developed by chemists and microelectronics engineers at the Fraunhofer IZM Institute in Berlin. Scientists have combined very different nanomaterials into so-called energy harvesters. Energy combines have been developed to create energy due to the movement of human feet. The first experimental samples of technology 'energy' clothing was a jacket. It contains devices that allow it not only to generate its own energy but also to store it for future use.
The goal of the scientists was to create an opportunity for a person to produce his own electricity without making any special efforts. They combined a wide variety of nanomaterials and digital technologies into a development called MATFLEXEND (German - 'energy collectors' ). An innovative solution is capable of transforming the movement of a human body into electricity, for example - when walking.
MATFLEXEND invеstigates new matеrials for energy harvesting that are flеxible, durable as well as solution-procеssable into printable inks, and which therеfore enable mass-producible energy harvesters which integrate mechanical-to-electrical energy convеrsion and storage in a single device. Basic research in developing new materials and formulations will thus be complеmented by testing them for printability, so as to enable mass fabrication of such harvеsters in a printing process.
According to electronic technologist Robert Hahn, scientists are working on two important aspects, namely, small forces and low frequencies. Therefore, they aimed to create efficient energy generators that would satisfy these factors. To save the generated energy for further use, co-authors of the European Research Project have also created miniature flexible batteries with a long service life that can easily be integrated into the fabric.
Some of the elements of the battery electrodes are made using nanomaterials that provide the highest possible power density, even in small components. An important condition for their creation without the formation of agglomerate particles was careful processing. Therefore, the main problem for scientists was the qualitative printing of nanostructures. Both accumulators and energy collectors themselves are made using a complex of nanofibres, ceramic nanoparticles and other components, which are monitored at the micro level.
During charging and discharging, lithium-ion batteries pass through various stages, for example, intercalation and deintercalation. These processes can occur only with certain crystal structures. That is why compliance with the purity of crystalline phases is so important. The main task for scientists is to provide mechanical flexibility of electronic devices and, at the same time, they strive to ensure the plasticity of batteries, so that the whole structure does not differ from ordinary textiles in appearance.
In the manufacture of batteries, researchers used existing materials, while the miniaturization process was quite successful - the batteries really turned out to be extremely small. Developers already now have sufficient clear idea about where it will be possible to use the new technology. It can be a medical field, scientific and technical equipment and others. The commercial solution is expected to enter the market in the coming years. Scientists believe their innovative products could be ready for the shops in less than five years.