Using flexible conducting polymers and novel circuitry patterns printed on paper, researchers have demonstrated proof-of-concept wearable thermoelectric generators that can harvest energy from body heat to power simple biosensors for measuring heart rate, respiration or other factors.
Because of their symmetrical fractal wiring patterns, the devices can be cut to the size needed to provide the voltage and power requirements for specific applications. The modular generators could be inkjet printed on flexible substrates, including fabric, and manufactured using inexpensive roll-to-roll techniques.
“The attraction of thermoelectric generators is that there is heat all around us,” said Akanksha Menon, a Ph.D. student in the Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. “If we can harness a little bit of that heat and turn it into electricity inexpensively, there is great value. We are working on how to produce electricity with heat from the body.”