II-VI Marlow Blog

Japanese Researchers Created a Flexible Thermoelectric Generator

This entry was posted in Energy Harvesting , thermoelectric technology and renewable energy on September 27, 2018 by II-VI Marlow Industries

Over time, scientists and engineers have found ways to integrate new technologies into our everyday lives. We have fitness watches, smartphones, sleep trackers, and more, but these devices aren’t attached to us at all times. People get sick of fitness watches, forget to track each night of sleep, and although we typically keep our smartphone within arm’s length, they are not as essential to us as the clothes we wear. Think about it, your clothes are the one thing you could never function in society without.

Did you ever think technology could move into your closet?

Are Thermoelectrics Entering the Fashion Industry?

Some exciting things are happening in the world of thermoelectrics. First, researchers at Georgia Tech University devised a way to print thermoelectric generator circuits onto flexible materials, furthering their ability to utilize body heat for power.

This opened up a whole new level of potential for thermoelectric devices. Making these circuits comfortable enough for everyday wear would allow people to power their devices through their own body heat. The trick then, was to develop n-type polymers that would permit devices to generate power from temperature differences as low as 5° C. In our previous blog (hyperlink to Sept blog 1), we go over the successful development of a thermoelectric generator with this low temperature difference.

Smart-Accessories Just Got Smarter

Recently, a research team in Seoul, Korea has produced a device small and flexible enough to fit on smart-accessories such as smartwatches and smartglasses. Team leader, Cho Song-yun added that this device can be reduced to the size of a coin if needed. Additionally, Cho’s research team discovered a way to construct these flexible thermoelectric devices with wearable and durable materials.

The materials that are typically used in the manufacturing of thermoelectric generators are susceptible to oxidation and could be potentially dangerous to the human body. Utilizing black phosphorus coated with gold nanoparticles is the new solution to these problems. These materials are safe for wear on human skin and are even more cost-effective that other, more conventionally-used materials.

This invention could revolutionize the future of thermoelectric technology as well as the work we do here at II-VI Marlow. Our line of products can expand and reach a larger consumer market.

Be sure to check out our research & development page for extensive information about how we continue to innovate our cutting-edge technology in this dynamic industry.

Before you know it, you could start seeing thermoelectric generators featured in the latest issues of Vogue... or maybe just in your newest pair of pants.


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