Connecting small, energy-generating units in a scale-like structure allows flexible movement. South Korean scientists have designed a flexible battery that bends and stretches like a snake. This is an innovation that could find use in advanced wearable devices and soft robots used in disaster management.
Engineers from the Korea Institute of Machinery and Materials (KIMM) said they were inspired by snake scales, which, while rigid in the battery’s structure, can be folded over to provide protection against external influences and is also highly stretchable, allowing flexible movement.
The stretchable device, described in the journal Soft Robotics, enables flexible movement by connecting several small, rigid batteries in a flake-like structure.
The device consists of small, hexagonal battery cells resembling snake scales that are connected to each other using a hinge mechanism made of polymer and copper material to fold and unfold.
FOLDING LINES HINGE STRUCTURE OF SNAKESkin
In the details of the news in Independent Turkish, the scientists say that they have optimized the design of the individual flake-like structures that make up the battery to minimize deformation. The scientists say key aspects of this technological achievement are the design of the shape of individual battery cells and the connecting components.
The researchers say this current design could be applied in wearable soft robots such as smartwatches, and medical rehabilitation devices for the elderly and patients who need physical assistance.
The researchers believe the battery innovation could also be useful as a power source for flexible soft robots used during disasters to help conduct rescue missions.
Soft robots equipped with these batteries can move flexibly and shape freely, so they can crawl through narrow spaces made inaccessible by obstacles in disaster situations.
In future work, scientists hope to increase the energy storage capacity of these flexible batteries and develop multifunctional soft robots with artificial muscles.
Because the new battery can be made by cutting and folding flexible electrodes in an origami-inspired manufacturing process, the scientists say its current design will also facilitate economical mass production.