Solar supercapacitor could power future of wearable sensors

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A new form of solar-powered supercapacitor could help make future wearable technologies lighter and more energy-efficient, scientists say.

Researchers from the University of Glasgow’s Bendable Electronics and Sensing Technologies (BEST) group describe a “promising” new type of graphene supercapacitor, which could be used in the next generation of wearable health sensors.

The supercapacitor uses layers of flexible, 3D porous foam formed from graphene and silver to produce a device capable of storing and releasing around 3 times more power than any similar flexible supercapacitor, says the BEST team.

The team demonstrated the durability of the supercapacitor, showing that it provided power consistently across 25,000 charging and discharging cycles.

They have also found a way to charge the system by integrating it with flexible solar powered skin already developed by the BEST group, effectively creating an entirely self-charging system, as well as a pH sensor which uses wearer’s sweat to monitor their health.

Professor Ravinder Dahiya said: “This research could take the wearable systems for health monitoring to remote parts of the world where solar power is often the most reliable source of energy, and it could also increase the efficiency of hybrid electric vehicles. We’re already looking at further integrating the technology into flexible synthetic skin which we’re developing for use in advanced prosthetics.”