Topic 1: Store energy in wearable fabrics to power future electronics
The emerging wearable electronics need power sources that are safer and last longer. Our idea is to store electrical power in flexible and wearable fabrics, in which we can find much more room than in the miniaturized electronics. In the future, we may wear a power jacket that supplies electricity to many electronic components on it or use it as a backup power source for smart phones.
We have developed an approach to directly weaving functional threads to energy storage fabrics (Figure 1b and c). Currently, we are improving the mechanical and electrochemical properties of those threads towards higher flexibility and larger energy capacity.
Figure 1: a. Illustration of future wearable electronics (Image adapted from google image search); b.Woven energy storage fabrics designed by Dr. Shen and published in Scientific Reports (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-14854-3); c.A woven watch strap that can power screens.
Topic 2: Develop multifunctional composites for structural energy storage
Electrically powered mobile systems ranging from smart phones to electrical vehicles use rechargeable batteries as power sources. But sometimes, especially for applications like satellites, drones, and some robots, there’s limited room for batteries. Our idea is to store electrical energy in their structural components, such as body frames. We are developing composites that are strong enough to bear loads and can store electricity meanwhile. The basic structure and potential applications are illustrated in Figure 2.
Figure 2: Illustration of energy storage composite and its applications.
Topic 3: Magnetic field-triggered drug delivery
Many drugs are supposed to be delivered to a specific location in our body at a specific time to work the best. One way to do this is to anchor the sealed drugs at the location and then trigger its release when needed. Magnetic field is something that can trigger drug release from outside of the body without causing any damage. We are developing a polymer-magnetic nanoparticle composite system that can release drugs when triggered by a magnetic field, as illustrated in Figure 3.
Figure 3: Illustration of the magnetic field-triggered drug delivery system.
Topic 4: Mechanical and thermal energy harvesting
This project is under initial development and more information will be released soon.