Graphene for self-charging wearables
Predictions by Gartner suggest worldwide shipments of wearable devices will reach a colossal 225 million in 2019. Wearable electronics have a magnitude of applications, including healthcare, fitness and medical. WearGRAPH,the Graphene Flagship's dedicated Spearhead Project for investing in wearable technology, was created to develop self-powered graphene-based textiles for wearable electronics, generating promising results for industry.
Unlike many existing wearable devices, WearGRAPH focused on the creation of integrated textile-based wearables that can also be used for energy conversion and storage. Using graphene's high level of connectivity and flexibility, the textile can include energy harvesting and energy storage functionality that can be used to power a wearable application.
"Flexible graphene-based energy generators — such as solar cells, triboelectric nanogenerators and storage devices, like supercapacitors — have been produced and combined with a wearable sensing system," explained Xinliang Feng, Work Package Leader for Functional Foams and Coatings at the Graphene Flagship. "Using this technology, the system can be integrated into clothes to power electronic devices. For example, using a sensor to control a smart fabric cooling system for workwear."
The WearGRAPH Spearhead Project has already identified a potential industrial customer for this technology. The customer in question has plans to integrate this system into its range of apparel to develop a collection of thermo-regulating clothing products.
As the project comes to an end in early 2020, the Graphene Flagship initiative has produced a full demonstration of a self-powered wearable electronic system, which has been designed to monitor temperature and climate.