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CU Boulder researchers create wearable device that turns body heat into electricity


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    BOULDER, Colorado (KCNC) — Researchers have developed a new kind of wearable device that draws power from your body heat — transforming the human body into a biological battery that can drive electronics.

A stretchy material called polyimine is used to create a ring, wristband or any other accessory that touches your skin. The scientists then stick a series of thin thermoelectric chips into that material, connecting them all with liquid metal wires. The thermoelectric generators take heat that would normally be dissipated into the environment and turn it into electricity.

Researchers say the device can produce about one volt of energy for every square centimeter of skin space — enough to power electronics like watches or fitness trackers.

Scientists have experimented with similar thermoelectric wearable devices, but this one is stretchy, can heal itself when damaged and is fully recyclable.

“If your device tears, for example, you can pinch together the broken ends, and they’ll seal back up in just a few minutes,” researchers stated. “And when you’re done with the device, you can dunk it into a special solution that will separate out the electronic components and dissolve the polyimine base—each and every one of those ingredients can then be reused.”

“We’re trying to make our devices as cheap and reliable as possible, while also having as close to zero impact on the environment as possible,” said Jianliang Xiao, senior author of the new paper.

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