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Breakthrough - Paintable Batteries
Researchers at Rice University have developed a battery that can be painted onto virtually any surface. Traditional packaging for batteries has given way to a more flexible approach.
Researchers at Rice University have developed a lithium-ion battery
that can be painted onto virtually any surface. The rechargeable
battery, described in the journal Nature: Scientific Reports, consists of spray-painted layers, each representing the components in a traditional battery.
This means traditional packaging for batteries has given way to a
much more flexible approach that allows all kinds of new design and
integration possibilities for storage devices. As such, it directly
addresses the need for power sources with an improved form factor.
The Rice team spent painstaking hours formulating, mixing, and
testing paints for each of the five layers: the two current collectors,
a cathode, an anode, and a polymer separator that goes in the middle.
An airbrush was used to paint these layers onto ceramic bathroom
tiles, flexible polymers, glass, stainless steel, and even a beer stein
to see how well they would bond with each substrate.
In the first experiment, nine bathroom tile-based batteries were
connected in parallel. When fully charged by both a solar panel and
house current, the batteries powered a set of light-emitting diodes that
spelled out "RICE" for six hours; during the entire time, the batteries
provided a steady 2.4 volts.
They were remarkably consistent in their capacities, within plus or
minus 10 percent of the target. There was also only a very small drop
in capacity after they were put through 60 charge-discharge cycles.
The Rice researchers have filed for a patent on the technique, which they will continue to refine.
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