Flexible, Biodegradable Battery Technology Revealed

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Date: Tuesday, August 14th, 2007, 08:53
Category: battery

paperbattery.jpg
As much as you convince yourself that you’re living in the future, or at least a pretty sophisticated present, the batteries say otherwise. Open up an iPhone or MacBook and you’re greeted by a fairly large battery that occupies space and adds to the device’s weight.
This may be about to change, as new research is suggesting that carbon nanotube technologies may be the key to implementing flexible batteries and supercapacitors capable of shrinking down devices even further.
According to Ars Technica, researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnica Institute and MIT have developed a new material that can eliminate several of the old constraints within a battery, especially where the need to create two electrode layers and two charge-holding layers with an insulating layer in the middle and the lack of flexibility this historically provides.
Click the jump for the full story…


paperbattery.jpg
As much as you convince yourself that you’re living in the future, or at least a pretty sophisticated present, the batteries say otherwise. Open up an iPhone or MacBook and you’re greeted by a fairly large battery that occupies space and adds to the device’s weight.
This may be about to change, as new research is suggesting that carbon nanotube technologies may be the key to implementing flexible batteries and supercapacitors capable of shrinking down devices even further.
According to Ars Technica, researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnica Institute and MIT have developed a new material that can eliminate several of the old constraints within a battery, especially where the need to create two electrode layers and two charge-holding layers with an insulating layer in the middle and the lack of flexibility this historically provides.
The new technique involves carbon nanotunes that were grown on a silicon substrate and combined at the ends with cellulose, or paper. Once the combination had dried, the paper material could be peeled off the silicon substrate surface with one of the carbon nanotube ends exposed to form an electrode.
From here, two sheets of paper with a cellulose side facing inward and a drop of electrolyte on the paper, a supercapacitor with the flexibility of normal paper can be formed. These supercapacitors hold similar ratings as a normal battery and a 100g sheet could replace a 1300mAH battery. The flexible medium allows the battery to be shaped in almost any way.
The technology can also be enhanced by placing a drop of electrolyte on a single sheet and then putting a metal foil composed of litium and aluminum on each side to create a lithium ion battery capable of holding about 110mAh/g capacity and powering small mechanical devices. Batteries created through this method proved stable and can operate between -78 and 150 degrees Fahrenheit.
While the power density of this technology isn’t amazing, the flexibility provided allows for batteries to be fitted into strange shapes and even wrapped around the electronics inside a device.
The article also noted that since bodily fluids can act as an electrolyte, the battery could be used for medical applications and could be installed into a patient fully charged but dry and feed off bodily fluids to allow it to discharge.
Even though there was no mention as to when this would come to computer technologies, it’s a cool find and something that could change the face of devices to come.
If you have any ideas or feedback about this, let us know in the comments or forums.

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