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Courtesy of Queen's University Belfast

Researchers develop flexible alternative to rigid batteries for pacemakers and defibrillators

by Lauren Dubinsky , Senior Reporter
Since the rigid, metal-based batteries that power pacemakers and defibrillators rub against the skin and cause discomfort, researchers at Queen’s University Belfast designed a flexible, organic alternative.

The flexible supercapacitor was constructed using materials that are safe for the human body, including non-flammable electrolytes and organic composites.

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"Flexibility to adapt body shapes, durability and body-compatibility are the advantages that can make them suitable for future," Dr. Geetha Srinivasan, electrochemist and senior research fellow at the university, told HCB News.

In a paper published in Energy Technology and Green Chemistry, Srinivasan and her team explained that the device can be manufactured using natural feedstock, which is readily available, instead of expensive metals or semiconductors. Because of that, the device can be easily decomposed without any of the costs associated with recycling or disposing of metal-based batteries.

It also doesn't pose any leakage issues and can last up to three times longer than the conventional metal-based batteries. Srinivasan said that's because the biomaterial-based electronic composites (electrodes) and ionic liquids (electrolytes) are chemically more stable than their conventional counterparts.

The team envisions that this device could also have implications outside of the medical field, such as making wearable electronics and portable electronic devices more flexible.

"There is also opportunity to fabricate task-specific supercapacitors. This means that their properties can be tuned and also manufactured using environmentally friendly methods, which is important if they are to be produced on a large scale, for example in powering portable personal electronic devices," Srinivasan added.

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