We used a fabric comprising 92 per cent polyester and 8 per cent spandex. We selected this fabric because it was stretchable enough for the mechanical deformation tests and hydrophilic enough for the storage of the bacteria-containing liquid. Conductive textiles are required to extract electrons from the microorganisms, and at the same time, the textiles must have open pores and hydrophilic features to adsorb the cells in liquid while the device needs to be mechanically flexible, stretchable and easily integratable with other necessary electronic components.
With the rapid evolution of wireless sensor networks for the emerging Internet-of-Things (IoT), there is a clear and pressing need for flexible and stretchable electronics that can be easily integrated with a wide range of surroundings to collect real-time information. Those electronics must perform reliably even while closely - even intimately when used on humans - attached while deformed toward complex and curvilinear shapes. To achieve the standalone and sustainable operation of the sensor networks, we considered a flexible, stretchable, miniaturised bio-battery as a truly useful energy technology because of their sustainable, renewable and eco-friendly capabilities. For the long-term goal, other wearable electronics, such as activity trackers, socks and gloves, can be powered as well.
It is hard to say at this moment because this work is in the infant stage.
This work gained significant attention from the community and was reported by many media outlets, including ScienceDaily, Newswise, Techxplore and EurekAlert.
First, the power needs to be improved significantly for the future applications. Second, we will demonstrate that sweat generated from the human body can be a potential fuel to support bacterial viability, providing the long-term operation of the MFCs.
Compared to traditional batteries and other enzymatic fuel cells, the MFCs can be the most suitable power source for wearable electronics because the whole microbial cells as a biocatalyst provide stable enzymatic reactions and long life time. Sweat generated from the human body can be a potential fuel to support bacterial viability, providing the long-term operation of the MFCs.
The organic fuel for microorganisms can be any type of biodegradable substrate, including wastewater, soiled water from a puddle, and biological/physiological fluids, such as tears, urine, blood and sweat.
Yes. Flexible electronics are getting more and more attention these days because of the wide application possibilities. However, we have tended to overlook the importance of flexible energy supplying devices even though they are necessary for a truly stand-alone device platform. My stretchable and twistable power device printed directly onto a single textile substrate can establish a standardised platform for flexible bio-batteries and will be potentially integrated into wearable electronics in the future.
Smart wearables will attract greater attention because of their continuous interaction with the human body, such as monitoring blood pressure, heart rate, motion, biomarkers in sweat, and other health-related conditions. Furthermore, smart wearables will enable a next-generation of smart, stand-alone, always-on wireless sensor networks designed to collect real-time information for human safety and security. (HO)
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