Korean and American scientists have developed an innovative solution to combat heat in wearable sensors. Led by Professor Young Min Song from Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology (GIST) in Korea, the team produced a flexible and non-metallic cooler made from perforated polymers. The resulting material reflects nearly all sunlight, and it has high emissivity in the range of frequencies known as the atmospheric window, allowing it to radiate excess heat into the atmosphere, keeping it cool. In addition, its mechanical properties make it perfect for outdoor wearable devices.
Wearable electronic devices like fitness trackers and biosensors, are very promising for healthcare applications and research. They can be used to measure relevant biosignals in real-time and send gathered data wirelessly, opening up new ways to study how our bodies react to different types of activities and exercise. However, heat accumulates in these devices for various reasons: operation in close contact with the user’s skin and from internalsources. When these combine, the temperature of wearable devices can rise to uncomfortable levels, and may even cause erroneous measurements. Heat sinks and dissipators for wearable devices use metallic layers, which block electromagnetic signals and thus hinder wireless communications.
With this new type radiative cooler using perforated polymers will keep the gadgets cool and functional under heat, paving the way for thermally-protected wearable devices.