Inspired by the morphology of serpents, the innovative design is intended to open new doors in the world of soft robotics, wearable electronics, or other applications where flexibility is an advantage, including disaster rescue operations.
The idea behind the design is to provide a more malleable energy storage solution for wearable devices and robots, where hard-but-small batteries link together to create an overlapping scale-like structure that can bend and stretch with the device.
As reported by New Atlas, the team used small, hexagonal-shaped lithium-ion battery cells to form the “scales”. The researchers then electrically connected the batteries with polymer and copper materials, which also acted as a hinge mechanism to enable stable deformations without incurring damage.
In tests, the stretchable battery proved it could maintain its performance even when bent out of shape and subjected to a stretching ratio of 90 percent, across more than 36,000 cycles.
These unique abilities to stretch and bend could see the battery find uses in wearable medical devices, such as those used to help in the rehabilitation of elderly patients. Additionally, the flexible battery could also find use in the design of search and rescue robots that need to work their way through narrow spaces in disaster settings.
Study source: Soft Robotics — Bioinspired, Shape-Morphing Scale Battery for Untethered Soft Robots