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Sugar-Based Sodium Ion Batteries With ‘Sponge Electrodes’ Developed By Scientists

First Posted: Apr 26, 2017 06:05 AM EDT

The advent of stretchable batteries has attracted a lot of attention recently, especially due to its possible application in the development of flexible electronic devices. In the past, many stretchable sodium ion battery designs have been proposed. However, most of them included one or more rigid components. This caused reduction in the stretch ability of the batteries, hence making them unsuitable for development of skin biosensors and other flexible electronic devices.

Sugar-Based Sodium Ion Battery

Scientists from the University of Texas have developed a new battery that is stretchable and mechanically robust at the same time. The stretchability is attributed to its sponge electrodes that were developed from sugar cubes and polymer gels.

According to the article published in the Advanced Materials journal, scientists used the sugar cubes to develop a highly porous and high-performance electrode. They placed sugar cubes on top of a polymer gel and subjected it to a series of treatments. The treatments included exposure to vacuum and heating in an oven, which were followed by a series of washing.

During these steps, the sugar was dissolved and washed away, while the polymer gel transformed into a highly porous stretchable sponge-like structure. The pores of the sponges thus obtained were filled with conductive graphene solutions that lead to the formation of highly stretchable and conductive "sponge electrodes." The porous architecture of these electrodes provides the advantage of large storage capacity of conductive ions.

The batteries developed from these sponge electrodes were tested for mechanical strength and stretchability by connecting them to LED lights and mounting them on elbow braces. The braces were then tested against different bending motions that involved stretching of the device.

According to Phys.org, the stretchable sodium ion batteries could retain 90 percent of their capacity after being subjected to 100 cycles of variable arm stretching movements that put 50 percent strain on them. According to scientists, the results obtained are highly optimistic.

It is proposed that upscaling of such stretchable sodium ion batteries may help in the development of health monitoring skin sensors, wearable telecommunication and medical devices and other next generation energy storage devices.

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