Researchers crack the long-standing problem of how to make stretchy batteries to power a growing range of stretchy electronics.
Researchers have demonstrated a flat, "stretchy" battery that can be pulled to three times its size without a loss in performance.
While flexible and stretchable electronics have been on the rise, powering them with equally stretchy energy sources has been problematic.
The new idea in Nature Communications uses small "islands" of energy-storing materials dotted on a stretchy polymer.
The study also suggests the batteries can be recharged wirelessly.
In a sense, the battery is a latecomer to the push toward flexible, stretchable electronics. A number of applications have been envisioned for flexible devices, from implantable health monitors to roll-up displays.
But consumer products that fit the bendy, stretchy description are still very few - in part, because there have been no equally stretchy, rechargeable power sources for them.
"Batteries are particularly challenging because, unlike electronics, it's difficult to scale down their dimensions without significantly reducing performance," said senior author of the study John Rogers of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.