Skin-like stretchable fuel cell based on gold-nanowire-impregnated porous polymer scaffolds

Shu Gong, Shengrong Du, Jianfei Kong, Qingfeng Zhai, Fenge Lin, Siyuan Liu, Neil R. Cameron, Wenlong Cheng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Skin-like energy devices can be conformally attached to the human body, which are highly desirable to power soft wearable electronics in the future. Here, a skin-like stretchable fuel cell based on ultrathin gold nanowires (AuNWs) and polymerized high internal phase emulsions (polyHIPEs) scaffolds is demonstrated. The polyHIPEs can offer a high porosity of 80% yet with an overall thickness comparable to human skin. Upon impregnation with electronic inks containing ultrathin (2 nm in diameter) and ultrahigh aspect-ratio (>10 000) gold nanowires, skin-like strain-insensitive stretchable electrodes are successfully fabricated. With such designed strain-insensitive electrodes, a stretchable fuel cell is fabricated by using AuNWs@polyHIPEs, platinum (Pt)-modified AuNWs@polyHIPEs, and ethanol as the anode, cathode, and fuel, respectively. The resulting epidermal fuel cell can be patterned and transferred onto skin as “tattoos” yet can offer a high power density of 280 µW cm−2 and a high durability (>90% performance retention under stretching, compression, and twisting). The results presented here demonstrate that this skin-thin, porous, yet stretchable electrode is essentially multifunctional, simultaneously serving as a current collector, an electrocatalyst, and a fuel host, indicating potential applications to power future soft wearable 2.0 electronics for remote healthcare and soft robotics.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2003269
Number of pages8
Issue number39
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020


  • fuel cell
  • polyHIPEs
  • stretchable
  • ultrathin gold nanowires

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