Zinc-ion Secondary Battery Integrated in a Cotton Fabric

E-textiles are consistently limited by their reliance on conventional batteries which are incompatible with the feel of fabrics and requirements for washing garments.  There is therefore considerable interest in alternative power supplies and one potential approach being investigated at the University of Southampton is to fabricate the battery in the structure of the fabric itself. The Smart Electronic Materials and Systems group has recently developed a zinc-ion secondary battery integrated in a cotton fabric. The battery cell requires the cotton fabric to be modified in the location of the battery such that it forms a porous co-polymer membrane which acts as the separator in the zinc-ion battery. The magnesium dioxide cathode and zinc anode are then spray coated onto either side of the fabric, a water-based electrolyte added and the device is sandwiched by the current collecting electrodes. The device is fully encapsulated by a thermoplastic film and demonstrated excellent flexibility and robustness – it can even survive being cut in half.

Figure 1 – Fabrication process for the zinc-ion secondary battery

Zinc ion battery

Figure 2 – Fabric zinc-ion battery before and after encapsulation (battery diameter 10 mm)

Fabric zinc ion battery