Gogotsi is the Distinguished University and Bach professor in the College of Engineering and director of the A.J. Drexel Nanomaterials Institute.
Dion is professor and director of Drexel’s Center for Functional Fabrics.
A team has had success incorporating MXene, a conductive two-dimensional material discovered at Drexel in 2011, into a textile-based supercapacitor that can charge in minutes and then power an Arduino microcontroller temperature sensor while transmitting data for almost two hours.
“This is a significant development for wearable technology,” says Yury Gogotsi, Distinguished University and Bach professor in the College of Engineering. “To fully integrate technology into fabric, we must also be able to seamlessly integrate its power source — our invention shows the path forward for textile energy-storage devices.”
To create the supercapacitor, the team simply dipped small swatches of woven cotton textile into a MXene dispersion in water, then layered on a lithium chloride electrolyte gel. Each supercapacitor cell consists of two layers of MXene-coated textile with an electrolyte separator also made of cotton textile. To make a patch with a useful amount of power, the team stacked five cells to create a power pack capable of charging to 6 volts.
“While there are many materials out there that can be integrated into textiles…textiles can easily be coated with MXene without using chemical additives — or additional production steps,” says co-author Tetiana Hryhorchuk, a doctoral researcher in the college. “As a result, our supercapacitor showed a high-energy density and enabled functional applications such as powering programmable electronics.”
The best-performing textile supercapacitor powered an Arduino Pro Mini 3.3V microcontroller that was able to wirelessly transmit temperature every 30 seconds for 96 minutes. And it maintained this level of performance consistently for more than 20 days.
This is one of the highest total power outputs on record for a textile energy device, the team notes, but it can still improve. In further work, they plan to test different electrolytes and textile electrode configurations to boost voltage, as well as new wearable designs.
The achievement was described in the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Journal of Materials Chemistry A, in a report co-authored with Gogotsi’s graduate and postdoctoral students; Genevieve Dion, professor and director of the Center for Functional Fabrics; and researchers from Accenture Labs in California.