Flexible device harnesses thermal energy to power portable devices
To create these flexible devices, researchers 3D printed composites with engineered functional and structural properties at each layer. The filler material contained liquid metal alloys, which provide high electrical and thermal conductivity. These alloys address the limitations of previous devices, including an inability to stretch, inefficient heat transfer, and a complex manufacturing process. The team also incorporated hollow microspheres to direct heat to the semiconductors at the core layer and reduce the weight of the device.
The researchers showed that they could print these devices on stretchable textile fabrics and curved surfaces, suggesting that future devices could be applied to clothing and other objects. The team is excited about the future possibilities and real world applications of wearable electronics.
“A unique aspect of our research is that it spans the entire spectrum, from materials synthesis to device fabrication and characterization,” said Malakooti, who is also a research fellow at UW’s Institute of Nano-Engineering Systems. “It gives us the freedom to design new materials, design every step of the process, and be creative.”
Source and top image: University of Washington