Scientists have used green tea compounds to develop a new flexible and compact rechargeable energy storage device which may power more comfortable wearable electronics such as heart rate monitors.
The most prominent versions of wearable electronics are sold in the form of watches or sports bands.
More comfortable products could become available in softer materials made in part with an unexpected ingredient — green tea, researchers said.
Powering soft wearable electronics with a long-lasting source of energy remains a big challenge.
However, most supercapacitors are rigid, and the compressible supercapacitors developed so far have run into roadblocks. “Our objective is to fabricate wearable electronic devices. Compressible energy storage devices are the first step towards achieving that objective,” Kothandam Krishnamoorthy, from the CSIR-Network of Institutes for Solar Energy said.
Supercapacitors have been made with carbon-coated polymer sponges, but the coating material tends to bunch up and compromise performance.
Researchers, including those from CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory in Pune and Academy of Scientific and Innovative Research in New Delhi, wanted to take a different approach.
The researchers prepared polymer gels in green tea extract, which infuses the gel with polyphenols.
The polyphenols converted a silver nitrate solution into a uniform coating of silver nanoparticles. Thin layers of conducting gold and poly (3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) were then applied.
The resulting supercapacitor demonstrated power and energy densities of 2,715 watts per kg and 22 watt- hours per kg — enough to operate a heart rate monitor, LEDs or a bluetooth module.