Tag Archives: flexible batteries

Ultra-thin flexible batteries may power next-gen wearables

A California-based startup has developed a new ultra-thin flexible battery that is inexpensive to make and could potentially power next-gen wearable technologies. According to MIT Technology ReviewImprint Energy has been testing its ultra-thin zinc-polymer batteries in wrist-worn devices with aspirations of one day selling them to wearable electronics, medical device, smart label and environmental sensor manufacturers.


The batteries were developed from research that company co-founder Christine Ho had undertaken as a graduate student at the University of California-Berkeley, where she collaborated with a researcher in Japan to produce microscopic zinc batteries using a 3D printer. Unlike lithium batteries with their highly reactive components, this flexible battery developed by Ho uses zinc and a polymer electrolyte, making it a stable and wearable-safe with a good capacity for recharging. Additionally, its small size and flexibility will allow for product designs that would have been impossible with bulkier lithium-based batteries. Even in small formats, the batteries can deliver enough current for low-power wireless communications sensors, distinguishing them from other types of thin batteries, writes MIT Technology Review’s Daniel Lovering.

“While zinc is more stable, the water-based electrolytes in conventional zinc batteries cause zinc to form dendrites, branch-like structures that can grow from one electrode to the other, shorting the battery. Ho developed a solid polymer electrolyte that avoids this problem, and also provides greater stability, and greater capacity for recharging.”


According to reports, Imprint Energy has secured $6 million of funding from Phoenix Venture Partners and AME Cloud Ventures, which will assist the team to further develop its proprietary chemistry and finance the battery’s commercial launch. The company has already been in talks about the use of its batteries in clothing and even “weird parts of your body like your eye.”

This isn’t the first time we’ve reported on flexible batteries. Earlier this spring, Rice University researchers created a flexible battery that could potentially power future generations of wearable devices. 

Developed by Rice chemist James Tour and his colleagues, the design comprised flexible material with nanoporous nickel-fluoride electrodes layered around a solid electrolyte.


Engadget talks flexible batteries for wearables

Mat Smith of the Engadget crew recently went hands-on with ProLogium, a manufacturer of flexible batteries for wearable devices.

“[The] flexible-battery manufacturer reckons its thin, flexible lithium-ceramic cells, shaped into wristbands, could offer as much as 500mAh of extra power, with existing models already offering an extra 300mAh,” Smith wrote on the sidelines of Computex 2014 in Taiwan.

“The lithium-ceramic batteries used are solid-state, meaning they avoid the volatility of other lithium-powered power sources. Other safety boons include non-flammable materials and the fact that it won’t explode or set fire if cut into pieces.”

According to Smith, the three- to five-cell layers measure (roughly) 1.5mm thick, making them a perfect fit for a wide range of wearables, including smart glass headsets, illuminated clothing, heating elements and smartwatches.

As Smith reports, the company is already making the bands in various configurations, offering a two-piece that connects to the end of a watch face, along with a chin design that connects and overlaps an existing strap.