3D-printed flexible energy storage for soft robotics

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Flexible and stretchable energy storage devices have attracted significant attention of industry and academia. These devices show great potential for applications in wearable electronics or soft robotics. However, the fabrication of flexible and stretchable electronic devices such as supercapacitors is challenging and requires expensive and time-demanding processes.
Additive manufacturing has become one of the most attractive techniques for building bespoke devices. In this regard, 3D-printing has emerged as an extrusion-based method for an accurate rapid prototyping. Here, we propose a combined method of 3D-printing and laser-scribing to fabricate flexible and stretchable supercapacitors.
The developed technique consists of the synthesis of the required materials, as well as the manufacturing processes of each part of a flexible supercapacitor. The components of the supercapacitor such as the conductive current collectors, electroactive material, gel electrolyte, as well as the housing encasement were successfully attained. The integration of the parts to obtain a complete flexible energy storage device was successfully achieved by investigating the interactions of the developed materials in contact.
The obtained flexible energy storage device presents an areal capacitance of 2.3 F cm-2, excellent cycling stability (97% retention after 10.000 cycles). Also the developed supercapacitor prototype can deliver a high energy density of 0.21 mWh cm-2 and a maximum power density of 39 mW cm-2 making it competitive compared with similar micro-supercapacitors reported to date. In addition, the manufactured devices kept its remarkable capacitance properties while being bent and stretched. It is envisaged that these precisely controlled software processes could be easily integrated in a production line with determined manufacturing times and keeping the resulting devices with their remarkable electrochemical performance. All the rapid protoytping manufacturing processes were accomplished by affordable commercial 3D printers and laser scribers.
The attained integration results pave the way towards automated fabrication processes of flexible energy storage devices with industrial and academic applications.
Date of Award21 Jun 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SponsorsSENESCYT Secretaría de Educación Superior, Ciencia
SupervisorCharl F J Faul (Supervisor) & Jonathan M Rossiter (Supervisor)


  • 3D Printing
  • supercapacitors
  • laser-scribed
  • polyaniline
  • energy storage
  • soft robotics

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