https://safirsoft.com The liquid metal contained in the hydrogel is a promising device for energy extraction

Any mechanical movement deforms the device, such as pressing, pulling and twisting.

Scientists at North Carolina State University have developed a flexible, flexible traction assembly device made of only soft, biocompatible materials: liquid metal and soft polymers known as hydrogels, according to a recent research paper the team prepared in the journal Advanced. materials, they generate small amounts of electricity compared to other energy harvesting technologies and can also work in the weather. The team believes their technology is promising for wearable devices to charge without the need for an external power source.

“Mechanical energy — such as the kinetic energy of wind, waves, body motion, and kinetic vibrations — is abundant,” says Michael Dickey, a biomolecular engineer at NCSU. "We've developed a device that can convert this kind of mechanical motion into electricity. And one of its great features is that it works really well underwater." In 2013, researchers found that they could use energy to combine two layers of electrical capacitance (ELCD) by pressing a group of water droplets between two rigid electrodes and automatically charging the capacitor. But the rigidity proved to be a drawback, because electricity is generated only by raising and lowering the steel electrode. Dickey and his colleagues wanted to create a flexible version of this technology.

The key is shown as a liquid metal ingot of gallium and indium, in each cock, and then placed in a water absorber. Water-soluble salt hydrogels (ions) accumulate on the metal surface to form a capacitor-like electrode double layer. The deformation of the liquid metal leads to an increase in the area, and the greater the surface area, the greater the inductive load. When electricity is generated, it can be harnessed with a wire attached to it.

"Because the machine is smooth, any mechanical movement can deform it, including crushing, pulling, and twisting." "This makes it very versatile to accumulate mechanical energy. For example, a hydrogel is flexible enough to stretch up to five times its original length."

Deformation of the device causes streaming. Zoom / distort the device to create a stream. YouTube / NCSU

Dickey and his colleagues later tested their devices' ability to alter power by deforming an electrode and comparing the results with other shapeless electrodes. They found that a distortion of just a few millimeters can produce a power density of about 0.5 milliwatts per square meter, which is comparable to other common power-collecting devices.

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But this device has a huge advantage over its competitors: these competitors usually do not perform well in wet environments. According to Dickey, this opens up more potential applications, including biomedicine, sportswear, soft robotics, electronic leather and use in marine environments. It is also very easy to produce their machine in just a few simple steps.

NCSU researchers used their technology to create a robotic traction sensor that can sense finger movement. "Increasing the bending angle of the finger increases deformation and leads to increased flow," they wrote. The sensor can also receive energy from the movement of the elbow and knee while walking. The water in the hydrogel evaporates over time, affecting its elasticity and changing its conductivity. However, this can be reduced by adding lithium chloride salts to the device. Gallium also oxidizes over time, and the researchers note a decrease in the energy potential after several thousand cycles. This can result in lower power outputs over a longer period of time. Some energy is still wasted in the deformation of the hydrogel. Even the softest gels can increase energy conversion efficiency.

According to Dickey, this is primarily a proof of concept. They are also exploring how to adapt their technology to capture wind and ocean waves. Dickey and his team believe they can find a way to increase the power density of their devices.

One way to do this might be to break up the metal into smaller droplets and essentially increase the area. cover, cover. Alternatively, the device can be pre-pressed and then allowed to loosen, increasing the electrical current (resulting in maximum instantaneous power). Or capacitors can be charged to increase the output power. Finally, "In principle, we might consider other materials such as ionic liquids or battery electrolytes to increase the action potential."

DOI: Advanced Materials, 2021. About DOIs. Researchers at North Carolina State University report a method for converting mechanical energy into electricity.

The liquid metal contained in the hydrogel is a promising device for energy extraction
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