Paper battery may power electronics in clothing and packaging material

September 23, 2009
Batteries made of paper may power electronics in the future, researchers say. Shown are images from an experimental paper-based battery. Credit: The American Chemical Society

Imagine a gift wrapped in paper you really do treasure and want to carefully fold and save. That's because the wrapping paper lights up with words like "Happy Birthday" or "Happy Holidays," thanks to a built in battery -- an amazing battery made out of paper. That's one potential application of a new battery made of cellulose, the stuff of paper, being described in the October 14 issue of ACS' Nano Letters.

Albert Mihranyan and colleagues note in the report that scientists are trying to develop light, ecofriendly, inexpensive batteries consisting entirely of nonmetal parts. The most promising materials include so-called conductive polymers or "plastic electronics."

One conductive polymer, polypyrrole (PPy), shows promise, but was often regarded as too inefficient for commercial batteries. The scientists realized, however, that by coating PPy on a large surface area substrate and carefully tailoring the thickness of the PPy coating, both the charging capacity and the charging (discharging) rates can be drastically improved.

The secret behind the performance of this battery is the presence of the homogeneous, uninterrupted, nano-thin coating — about 1/50,000th the thickness of a human hair — of PPy on individual cellulose fibers which in turn can be molded into paper sheets of exceptionally high internal porosity. It was special cellulose, extracted from a certain species of , with 100 times the surface area of cellulose found in paper. That surface area was key to allowing the new device to hold and discharge electricity very efficiently.

The innovative design of the was surprisingly simple yet very elegant since both of the electrodes consist of identical pieces of the composite paper separated by an ordinary filter paper soaked with serving as the . The potential difference is solely due to differences between the oxidized and reduced forms of the functional PPy layer. The recharged faster than conventional rechargeable batteries and appears well-suited for applications involving flexible electronics, such as clothing and packaging, the scientists say. Alternatively, low-cost very large energy storage devices having electrodes of several square yards in size could potentially be made in the future.

More information: "Ultrafast All-Polymer Paper-Based Batteries", . DOI: 10.1021/nl901852h

Source: American Chemical Society (news : web)

Explore further: Troublesome green algae serve as coating substrate in record-setting battery

Related Stories

Salt and Paper Battery May One Day Replace Lithium Batteries

September 15, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Salt and paper battery can be used in many low-power devices, such as medical implants, RFID tags, wireless sensors and smart cards. This battery uses a thin-film which makes it an attractive feature for ...

Battery Wrapped in Solar Cells Recharges in the Sun

March 2, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Although you can buy solar charging devices for rechargeable batteries, it would be even more convenient if batteries had built-in solar cells. Sitting in sunlight, the battery could then recharge itself. ...

Flexible battery power

March 19, 2007

A paper-like, polymer based rechargeable battery has been made by Japanese scientists. The news is reported in the latest edition of The Royal Society of Chemistry journal Chemical Communications.

Brown engineers build a better battery -- with plastic

September 13, 2006

Brown University engineers have created a new battery that uses plastic, not metal, to conduct electrical current. The hybrid device marries the power of a capacitor with the storage capacity of a battery. A description of ...

Recommended for you

Researchers create artificial materials atom-by-atom

March 27, 2017

Researchers at Aalto University have manufactured artificial materials with engineered electronic properties. By moving individual atoms under their microscope, the scientists were able to create atomic lattices with a predetermined ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.