Fabric-Based, Stretchable Lithium-ion battery Prototype Developed by UH Researchers

University of Houston researchers have achieved a groundbreaking breakthrough by developing a fully stretchable fabric-based lithium-ion battery prototype. Led by Professor Haleh Ardebili, the team aims to revolutionize wearable technology, envisioning a future where smart spacesuits, uniforms, and exercise clothes are powered by this cutting-edge battery technology.

Conventional rigid batteries have limited the potential of wearable electronics, and their liquid electrolytes pose safety concerns due to flammability and explosion risks. To address these limitations, the research team utilized conductive silver fabric as a platform and current collector, transforming lithium-ion battery electrodes into wearable, flexible, and stretchable electrodes.

The use of weaved silver fabric allows the battery electrode to mechanically deform, stretch, and maintain electrical conduction pathways for efficient performance. This stretchable battery technology offers stable performance and enhanced safety, making it suitable for a wide range of wearable devices and implantable biosensors.

Professor Haleh Ardebili and Navid Khiabani, a UH graduate research assistant, discussing bendable batteries.

The journey towards stretchable batteries began years ago when Ardebili delved into the science of coupling mechanical deformation and electrochemical performance. Her work gained recognition with prestigious awards from institutions like the National Science Foundation, NASA Texas Space Center Grant Consortium, and the US Army Research Lab.

Though a prototype has been successfully created, the research team continues to optimize the battery design, materials, and fabrication. The future of stretchable fabric-based batteries holds tremendous promise, envisioning applications such as smart space suits, health-monitoring garments, and interactive devices. However, commercial viability and mass manufacturability remain essential considerations to ensure their success in the market. Professor Ardebili’s ultimate goal is to create reliable and safe stretchable batteries that can power various innovative applications, further advancing the potential of wearable technology.