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Printing flexible wearable electronics for smart device applications

The printed flexible supercapacitor with customized patterns. Credit: Wei Wu’s group The demand for flexible wearable electronics has spiked with the dramatic growth of smart devices that can exchange data with other devices over the internet with embedded sensors, software, and other technologies. Researchers consequently have focused on exploring flexible energy storage devices, such as…

Printing flexible wearable electronics for smart device applications
The printed elastic supercapacitor with customized patterns. Credit: Wei Wu’s group

The requirement for flexible wearable electronic equipment has spiked with the dramatic development of smart devices that can exchange data with other devices over the internet with embedded sensors, software, and other technologies. Researchers consequently have concentrated on exploring flexible electricity storage devices, such as elastic supercapacitators (FSCs), that are lightweight and secure and easily integrate with other apparatus. FSCs have higher power density and fast charge and discharge rates.

Printing electronic equipment –manufacturing electronics devices and systems by using conventional printing methods –has proven to be an economical, simple, and scalable approach for generating FSCs. Traditional micromanufacturing techniques could be costly and complicated.

In Applied Physics Reviews, researchers in Wuhan University and Hunan University give a review of published FSCs in terms of their capacity to invent functional inks, layout printable electrodes, and incorporate functions along with other digital devices.

Printed FSCs are usually made by printing the practical inks on traditional inorganic and organic electrode materials on flexible substrates. Due to the thin film structure, these printed apparatus could be bent, stretched, and twisted to a certain radius without reduction of electrochemical function.

In addition, the rigid existing collector components of the supercapacitor may also be replaced with the flexible printed components. Various printing techniques like screen printing, , and 3D are well established to fabricate the printed FSCs.

“The development of miniaturized, flexible, and planar high-performance electrochemical energy storage devices is an urgent requirement to promote the rapid development of portable electronic devices in ,” said author Wu Wei. “We can imagine that in the future, we can use any printer in our lives and can print a supercapacitator to charge a mobile phone or smart wristband at any time.”

The researchers found for printable ink formulations, two principles should be followed closely. First, when picking ink components, it’s essential to include fewer ineffective additives, better conductive binders, and excellent dispersion electrode materials. Second, the ink needs to have a suitable viscosity and a good rheology property to obtain excellent prints.

Printable functional materials, for example graphene and pseudocapacitive materials, are good core components of printed supercapacitators.

Since printed electronics offer the advantage of flexibility and low cost, they can be utilized to fabricate , flexible OLED displays, transistors, RFID tags, and other integrated sm

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