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Belfast scientists develop flexible battery
Queen's University Belfast, Northern Ireland ©William Murphy

Belfast scientists develop flexible battery

14/09/17Health

Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland, has designed a flexible, organic battery which could revolutionise the way in which medical implants are powered.

Medical devices, such as pacemakers, are currently fitted with rigid metal-based batteries which can cause discomfort.

The charge in these batteries is anticipated to remain efficient for three times as long as their current alternative.

As the battery is decomposable, it is also expected to have environmental benefits.

Dr Geetha Srinivasan, the research leader from Queen’s University’s Ionic Liquid Laboratories (QUILL) research centre, said that the device had the additional benefit of being non-flammable and did not have leakage issues.

She added: “In medical devices such as pacemakers and defibrillators there are two implants, one which is fitted in the heart and another which holds the metal-based, rigid batteries – this is implanted under the skin.

“The implant under the skin is wired to the device and can cause patients discomfort as it rubs against the skin. For this reason batteries need to be compatible to the human body and ideally we would like them to be flexible so that they can adapt to body shapes.”

The technology could also be applied outside of a medical context, in its implementation within foldable phones or laptops in the future; the designs of these future technologies are constrained by rigid batteries.

There is no danger of the organic batteries beginning the decomposition process within the human body as they only begin this process at temperatures above 270°C.

Once adequately funded, Srinivasan added that the devices could be commercially available within the next five years.

Pan European Networks Ltd