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

Abstract

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
JournalSmall
Volume16
Issue number39
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020

Keywords

  • fuel cell
  • polyHIPEs
  • stretchable
  • ultrathin gold nanowires

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