New flexible batteries could be made by users at home
By Ben Coxworth
November 5, 2013
Scientists at the New Jersey Institute of Technology have joined the ranks of those from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Stanford University and LG, by creating prototype flexible batteries. Designed for use in electronic devices with flexible displays, they could conceivably be manufactured in any size or shape, or even made at home.
Each battery is made up of a flexible plastic substrate, impregnated with electro-active ingredients consisting of carbon nanotubes and "micro-particles." Lead scientist Somenath Mitra tells us that those particles can be zinc and manganese dioxide in the case of alkaline batteries, or lithium salts for lithium batteries. "The goal is to take existing systems and convert them to a flexible platform" he says.
Batteries made using the technology could be "as small as a pinhead or as large as a carpet in your living room,” and might even include electric vehicle batteries that could be rolled up and carried in the trunk.
Additionally, it's possible that consumers could make the batteries for themselves, custom-fit to their particular needs. Using a kit, they would coat two sheets of plastic with supplied electrode paste, insert a separating sheet between those two sheets, and then laminate them all together using an included laminating machine.
More information on exactly how the existing batteries were made should be available shortly, when a paper on Mitra's research is published in the journal Advanced Materials.