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Researchers Develop Flexible and Efficient Thermoelectric Generators Using Mechanical Metamaterials, Paving the Way for Revolutionary Wearable Technology.

Newswise — A team of researchers from the Korea Electrotechnology Research Institute (KERI) has developed a groundbreaking technology that enhances the flexibility and efficiency of thermoelectric generators using mechanical metamaterials. Dr. Hyekyoung Choi and Min Ju Yun from the Energy Conversion Materials Research Center at KERI have achieved the world’s highest level of flexibility and efficiency in thermoelectric generators by utilizing these unique materials.

Typically, when a material is stretched horizontally, it shrinks vertically. This is similar to how a rubber ball flattens out when pressed or a rubber band tightens when pulled. The ratio of transversal elongation to axial compression is known as Poisson’s ratio. However, mechanical metamaterials, unlike natural materials, are designed to expand in both horizontal and vertical directions when stretched horizontally. These metamaterials possess a negative Poisson’s ratio.

By incorporating a gasket with a metastructure, KERI was able to increase the stretchability of thermoelectric generators by up to 35%. A thermoelectric generator converts the temperature difference between two ends into electrical energy. The use of metamaterials in the generator allows for greater flexibility and efficiency, making it a significant breakthrough in wearable technology.

The research conducted by Dr. Choi and Dr. Yun has been published as an inside front cover paper in the prestigious journal ‘Advanced Energy Materials.’ This recognition highlights the importance of their findings and the potential impact on the field of thermoelectric energy harvesting.

The stretchable and flexible nature of the thermoelectric generators opens up new possibilities for wearable technology. These devices can be integrated into clothing, accessories, or even directly onto the skin, enabling the harvesting of energy from body heat. This could revolutionize the way we power wearable devices, eliminating the need for traditional batteries and providing a more sustainable and efficient solution.

The applications of this technology are vast. It could lead to the development of self-powered wearable devices that monitor health parameters, such as heart rate and body temperature, without the need for external power sources. Additionally, it could be utilized in smart clothing that adjusts its insulation properties based on the wearer’s body temperature, providing optimal comfort in various environments.

The research conducted by Dr. Choi and Dr. Yun represents a significant step forward in the field of wearable technology. Their innovative use of mechanical metamaterials in thermoelectric generators has the potential to revolutionize the way we harness and utilize energy. As the demand for wearable devices continues to grow, advancements like these will play a crucial role in shaping the future of this industry.

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