Photo credit: Xiao Lab
Colorado University researchers have developed a wearable ring-like device that turns human bodies into biological batteries. Since it’s made from an extremely flexible material, you can also wear the device as a bracelet or other accessory that makes contact with the skin. It converts the body’s natural internal heat via thermoelectric generators to usable electricity. This may not be a practical source of power now, as it only produces 1 volt of energy for every square centimeter of skin space, but the device does show promise.
Eventually, the team hopes to boost the power by adding in more blocks of generators, thus giving users many options for customization. For example, one could wear multiple generations like a sports wristband to generate about 5 volts of electricity. You won’t have to worry about them tearing either, since you’ll be able to pinch together the broken ends to seal them back up in just a few minutes. When finished, simply place it into a special solution that separates the electronic components and dissolves the polyimine base, enabling one to reuse every ingredient for a future project.
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In the future, we want to be able to power your wearable electronics without having to include a battery. Whenever you use a battery, you’re depleting that battery and will, eventually, need to replace it. The nice thing about our thermoelectric device is that you can wear it, and it provides you with constant power,” said Jianliang Xiao, senior author of the new paper and an associate professor in the Paul M. Rady Department of Mechanical Engineering at CU Boulder.