New design improves flexible wearable electronics’ performance

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Engineers have designed a flexible thermoelectric energy harvester that can rival the effectiveness of existing power wearable electronic devices using body heat as the only source of energy.

“We wanted to design a flexible thermoelectric harvester that does not compromise on the material quality of rigid devices yet provides similar or better efficiency,” said Mehmet Ozturk, Professor from North Carolina State University.

“Using rigid devices is not the best option when you consider a number of different factor,” he added. Ozturk , who is also the corresponding author of a paper, mentioned superior contact resistance or skin contact ¬†with flexible devices, as well as the ergonomic and comfort considerations to the device wearer.

Ozturk said one of the key challenges of a flexible harvester is to connect thermoelectric elements in series using reliable, low-resistivity interconnects.

The team’s future work will focus on improving the efficiencies of these flexible devices, by using materials and techniques to further eliminate parasitic resistances.