Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .

Thermoelectric generator on glass fabric for wearable electronic devices
by Staff Writers
Seoul, Korea (SPX) Apr 22, 2014

A thermoelectric generator developed as a wristband. The generator can be easily curved along with the shape of human body. Image courtesy KAIST.

Wearable computers or devices have been hailed as the next generation of mobile electronic gadgets, from smart watches to smart glasses to smart pacemakers. For electronics to be worn by a user, they must be light, flexible, and equipped with a power source, which could be a portable, long-lasting battery or no battery at all but a generator. How to supply power in a stable and reliable manner is one of the most critical issues to commercialize wearable devices.

A team of KAIST researchers headed by Byung Jin Cho, a professor of electrical engineering, proposed a solution to this problem by developing a glass fabric-based thermoelectric (TE) generator that is extremely light and flexible and produces electricity from the heat of the human body. In fact, it is so flexible that the allowable bending radius of the generator is as low as 20 mm. There are no changes in performance even if the generator bends upward and downward for up to 120 cycles.

To date, two types of TE generators have been developed based either on organic or inorganic materials. The organic-based TE generators use polymers that are highly flexible and compatible with human skin, ideal for wearable electronics. The polymers, however, have a low power output. Inorganic-based TE generators produce a high electrical energy, but they are heavy, rigid, and bulky.

Professor Cho came up with a new concept and design technique to build a flexible TE generator that minimizes thermal energy loss but maximizes power output. His team synthesized liquid-like pastes of n-type (Bi2Te3) and p-type (Sb2Te3) TE materials and printed them onto a glass fabric by applying a screen printing technique.

The pastes permeated through the meshes of the fabric and formed films of TE materials in a range of thickness of several hundreds of microns. As a result, hundreds of TE material dots (in combination of n and p types) were printed and well arranged on a specific area of the glass fabric.

Professor Cho explained that his TE generator has a self-sustaining structure, eliminating thick external substrates (usually made of ceramic or alumina) that hold inorganic TE materials. These substrates have taken away a great portion of thermal energy, a serious setback which causes low output power.

He also commented, "For our case, the glass fabric itself serves as the upper and lower substrates of a TE generator, keeping the inorganic TE materials in between. This is quite a revolutionary approach to design a generator. In so doing, we were able to significantly reduce the weight of our generator (~0.13g/cm2), which is an essential element for wearable electronics."

When using KAIST's TE generator (with a size of 10 cm x 10 cm) for a wearable wristband device, it will produce around 40 mW electric power based on the temperature difference of 31 F between human skin and the surrounding air.

Professor Cho further described about the merits of the new generator:

"Our technology presents an easy and simple way of fabricating an extremely flexible, light, and high-performance TE generator. We expect that this technology will find further applications in scale-up systems such as automobiles, factories, aircrafts, and vessels where we see abundant thermal energy being wasted."

This research result was published online in the March 14th issue of Energy and Environmental Science and was entitled "Wearable Thermoelectric Generator Fabricated on Glass Fabric."


Related Links
The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)
Powering The World in the 21st Century at

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Engineers develop new materials for hydrogen storage
San Diego CA (SPX) Apr 17, 2014
Engineers at the University of California, San Diego, have created new ceramic materials that could be used to store hydrogen safely and efficiently. The researchers have created for the first time compounds made from mixtures of calcium hexaboride, strontium and barium hexaboride. They also have demonstrated that the compounds could be manufactured using a simple, low-cost manufacturing m ... read more

John C. Houbolt, Unsung Hero of the Apollo Program, Dies at Age 95

NASA Completes LADEE Mission with Planned Impact on Moon's Surface

Russia plans to get a foothold in the Moon

Russian Federal Space Agency is elaborating Moon exploration program

Opportunity Rover Driving Up To Crater Rim

NASA Rover Opportunity's Selfie Shows Clean Machine

NASA's Human Path to Mars

Meteorites Yield Clues to Red Planet's Early Atmosphere

NASA Selects Commercial Crew Program Manager

NASA Innovative Advanced Concept Program Seeks Phase II Proposals

NASA Names Six New Members to Advisory Council

Go Big or Go Home - Shuttle Carrier Aircraft Doing Both, and More

China issues first assessment on space activities

China launches experimental satellite

Tiangong's New Mission

"Space Odyssey": China's aspiration in future space exploration

Astronauts Complete Short Spacewalk to Replace Backup Computer

No Official Confirmation of NASA Severing Ties with Russian Space Agency

Astronauts Prep for Spacewalk as Mission Managers Evaluate Busy Schedule

Dragon Cargo Craft Launch Scrubbed; Station Crew Preps for Spacewalk

45th Space Wing supports third SpaceX Launch for ISS Resupply mission

Arianespace's Vega launcher receives its "upper composite" for this month's launch

Launcher build-up begins for Arianespace's fifth Ariane 5 mission to orbit an ATV

Russian Rockets used by the US

Exoplanets Soon to Gleam in the Eye of NESSI

First Potentially Habitable Earth-Sized Planet Confirmed By Gemini And Keck Observatories

Upside-down planet reveals new method for studying binary star systems

Odd Tilts Could Make More Worlds Habitable

Tiny Step Edges, Big Step for Surface Science

Quantum superconductor-metal to glass transition observed

Thinnest feasible membrane produced

Chiral breathing: Electrically controlled polymer changes its optical properties

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.