A team of bioengineering experts at UCLA have found a novel soft and stretchable self-powered bioelectronics device. The technology uses human body emotions such as bending of elbow and pulse of the wrist into electricity that could be used to provide power to implantable diagnostic sensors and wearables.
The study led to the finding that magnetoelastic effect can exist in soft and stretchable systems. By definition, magnetoelastic effect is the magnitude of magnetized change a material undergoes when tiny magnets are constantly pushed and pulled apart by means of mechanical pressure.
To demonstrate this, microscopic magnets dispersed in paper thin silicone matrix to produce a magnetic field that alters in strength as the matrix undulates used. With the shift of strength of magnetic field, electricity is produced.
A paper published in Nature Materials describes the discovery and theoretical model behind the finding and its demonstration.
In fact, the finding opens up a new avenue for practical energy, therapeutic and sensing technologies that are associated with the human body and can be connected to IoT. Meanwhile, what makes this technology unique is it allows people to move and stretch with comfort when the device is pressed against human skin, and because it depends on magnetism instead of electricity, humidity and the human sweat do not compromise its effectiveness.
The research team constructed a small, flexible magnetoelastic generator composed of silicone polymer catalyzed with platinum, and neodymium-iron-boron nanomagnets. The apparatus then affixed to the subject’s elbow with a soft, flexible silicone band. This led to the observation of magnetoelastic effect four times higher than setups of similar size with rigid metal alloys.
Resultantly, the device generated electrical currents of 4.27 milliamperes per square centimeter, which is computed to be 10,000 times improved than the best comparable technology next to this.