We’ve written about graphene before: single-atom layers of carbon arranged in a lattice. Graphene has interesting and still-unexplored properties, and one group of scientists think it can be useful as a supercapacitor (which we’ve also written about before).
A flexible supercapacitor would be very interesting indeed for wearables, all the more if it were made out of a stable element that doesn’t burst into flame the way lithium does when it hits water.
Researchers at Duke University. MIT, and Huazhong University of Science and Technology took two sheets of graphene and put a layer of stretchy gel between them. They then crumpled the sandwich, which made it stretchy and would allow it to conform to useful shapes.
This graphene sandwich would be far cheaper to make than existing supercapacitors, and easier to weave into, for instance, clothing. Supercapacitors don’t hold as much energy as LiIon batteries, so they probably won’t run your cellphones any time soon. But wearables have a much lighter power need; the combination of cheap manufacturing and flexibility is very intriguing.
As scientific papers go, this one isn’t such tough sledding. You might want to give it a read.