Advanced Wearable Thermocells for Body Heat Harvesting
© 2020 Wiley-VCH GmbH Thermoelectrochemical cells (thermocells) designed for harvesting human body heat can provide constant power output for wearable electronics, supplementing state-of-the-art flexible power storage and conversion solutions. However, a systematic investigation into the optimization of wearable thermocells is lacking, especially with regard to device design, n-type electrolytes, and electrode/electrolyte integration. Here, a n-type gel electrolyte: polyvinyl alcohol-FeCl2/3 with outstanding flexibility and elasticity and exceptional electrolyte/electrode integration into a 3D porous poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene)/polystyrenesulfonate (PEDOT/PSS) electrode, is produced via an in situ chemical crosslinking method. The integrated n-type cell shows excellent seebeck coefficients (0.85 mV K−1) and output current density (1.74 A m−2 K−1) that are comparable with an optimized p-type cell consisting of a carboxymethylcellulose-K3/4Fe(CN)6 electrolyte with a 3D PEDOT/PSS-edge functionalized graphene/carbon nanotube electrode (−1.22 mV K−1 and 1.85 A m−2 K−1). The equivalent performance of the n-type and p-type cells enables the effective series connection of up to 18 pairs of p–n cells that combines to give an output voltage of 0.34 V (∆T = 10 K). This in-series device is fabricated into a proof-of-concept watch strap, which can harvest body heat, charge supercapacitor (up to 470 mF) as well as illuminate a green light emitting diode, demonstrating the practical applications.