Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

How the Japanese Art of Paper Cutting Can Make Stretchable Batteries

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

How the Japanese Art of Paper Cutting Can Make Stretchable Batteries

Article excerpt

What if you could wear a watch where the whole wristband was a battery? What about a phone that could bend without breaking?

A research team led by Hanqing Jiang at Arizona State University has created stretchable batteries using kirigami (a relative of origami that includes cutting paper), making that dream a reality. The team's findings are available in the most recent edition of Nature magazine.

One of the fundamental problems that Jiang's team was looking to solve was, "can we make a structure stretchable and make it still flat?" asked Dr. Jiang. The answer is yes. His team discovered a way to have a structure that would stretch at both ends, yet still maintain most of its height, through the use of kirigami.

Through a pattern known as the "cut-N-shear" kirigami pattern, the team was able to create a structure that could expand to 1.5 times its original length, going from 1.31 millimeters to 1.07 millimeters tall, but losing less than a fifth of its height.

The layered lithium-ion batteries were constructed from traditional materials, including copper as the cathode and aluminum as the anode. The stretching ability was achieved by rotations of the cut planes.

"Origami and techniques related to it like kirigami have a lot of properties related to it that make it useful in various technological applications, and we're seeing more and more of those applications," says Robert Lang a physicist and origami expert who collaborated with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to create the Eyeglass Telescope.

"I think as the concept becomes more widely publicized and more examples come out where people see it, then engineers and technologists starts to file that collection of tools in their arsenal of ways to approach engineering problems," adds Dr. Lang.

Jiang describes the trick to the kirigami structure as lying in the points of connection, allowing a certain degree of bending, which gives the structure flexibility without changing the height. …

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