The battery of tomorrow: Paper

by Mike
Posted December 8th, 2009 at 7:50 am


The science world is currently fixating on those uber cool Zinc-air batteries that are set to debut next year, but the really cool technology is further ahead still. Batteries of late have one simple problem: fast discharge times, length charge times, and short life span just to name a few. Did you ever think that something so abundant and widespread as paper could be a mobile energy saving grace?

Yes, normal paper has been turned into a battery thanks to the many great minds at Stanford University. I should point out that this “paper battery” is actually more like a super capacitor in that it can’t hold a charge very long, but more than makes up for that shortcoming with extremely quick electrical transfer rates — perfect for electric vehicles. In order to get the electrons flowing, scientists coated a piece of paper with ink made of carbon nanotubes and silver nanowires. These compounds allow the electrical juices to flow providing a lightweight and cheap battery that is easily scalable.

But will it last? Hows does 40,000 charge/discharge cycles sound? That’s many times greater than current battery technology and should ensure that battery replacements in the future will be a lot less relevant. Because of the high surface to density ratio, hybrid cars and other electric vehicles are prime candidates for a paper based battery. Not to mention, think of all the new possibilities gadget manufacturers will have with paper batteries which will ultimately be smaller than current iterations. Though as mentioned before, seeing as how current versions of this battery/super capacitor boast a greater ability for electrical transfer as opposed to actual runtime, any gadget applications may need a bit more tweaking in order to provide 1-month long runtimes.

The next time you’re writing on that piece of paper thinking how useless it is in the digital age, remember this post and think again. It won’t be too much longer before we start seeing some actual usable concepts pop up.

GizmoWatch > GizMag

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