NEC goes ultra-thin with 0.3mm-thick batteries

March 18, 2012 by Nancy Owano, report

NEC goes ultra-thin with 0.3mm-thick batteries
( -- NEC, which has been working on what is called "organic radical battery" (ORB) technology for some years, has announced its latest ORB breakthrough, the 0.3mm thick ORB. According to, the output rated as 5kW/L with a capacity of 3mAh. On full charge, the new battery prototype can refresh a screen 2,000 times. A recharge takes under a minute, about 30 seconds. The new batteries maintain 75 percent of their charge-discharge after 500 charges.

NEC has been exploring these polymer-based batteries since 2001, but the battery thickness was limited to 0.7mm. The new battery was made using printing technologies to integrate circuit boards with batteries, whereby negative electrodes were embedded directly on to the circuit boards. This presents important possibilities in applications, especially for use in what is being called "enhanced" credit and . Up to now, the ORBs of 0.7mm thickness were a difficult hurdle for standard integrated circuit (IC) cards, according to reports.

The battery is now compatible with these cards, the types that may serve as credit cards, subway and train passes, or as hotel door-keys. Standard-size smartcards equipped with a battery would be an attractive use of the new ORBs. Consumers, for example, could avoid ATMs when wanting to check out their bank balance. They could enjoy the convenience of checking out the information on a tiny screen on the card.

The envisioned ultra-thin, flexible plastic credit cards may not appear commercially this year but reports say that NEC intends to have ORB incorporated in products in 2013.

According to , NEC envisions these new-generation batteries, beyond credit cards, in flat screen displays and in flexible e-readers that feel like paper.

NEC goes ultra-thin with 0.3mm-thick batteries

A simple and brief explanation of its technology appears on the NEC site: The wording similarly indicates NEC’s vision of ORB technologies put to commercial use.

“NEC conducts research and development of thin and highly flexible rechargeable batteries that can be incorporated in ubiquitous terminals such as IC cards, RF tags, and electronic paper.”

The site adds that the “organic radical battery developed by NEC uses a flexible gel for the electrodes that enables the creation of thin batteries that can be bent freely. Such batteries, which also have the advantage of being rechargeable in less than one minute, are expected to be used in a variety of fields.”

NEC says that still another end use of the ORBs might be in the form of ORBS directly on clothing, shows an illustration where the is inserted in the sleeve.

Explore further: NEC develops organic radical battery for practical use

More information: , (in Japanese)

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1 / 5 (2) Mar 18, 2012
Fascinating development and likely to be taken up in a significant way if the pricing is good, will also have some considerable influence on packaging with a number of new product opportunities accessible in concert with portable diagnostic equipment Eg. Handheld portable DNA sequencers for species identification and especially pathogens such as recently presented in 'New Scientist' magazine...
not rated yet Mar 18, 2012
We could do away with the card readers that need to induce a current. While comfortable this gives anyone with a minimum of equipment the ability to read out all the cards you are carrying in your back pocket from a meter away.

If the cards incorporated a battery of their own an on-switch could be included (by just depressing the part where you hold the card while using it
not rated yet Mar 18, 2012
Now if they could just make them see-through :)
1 / 5 (1) Mar 18, 2012
Well...these things are wearable. I think we may have found a way to make really nice amplified prosthetics a reality, REAL human augments, physical, sensory, location independent...Six Million dollar man, here we come!

5 / 5 (1) Mar 18, 2012
Even with a low energy density, embedded systems for many applications can consume very low amounts of power, so I'm sure that will be no obstacle!
not rated yet Mar 19, 2012
Low energy density isn't an impediment to many interesting applications (and a lot of frivolous ones), but something I would like to know is the self-discharge rate of the battery. I went and checked the original article and it states "attery prototypes feature a 0.3mm edge, 3cm thickness, 3mAh capacity and 5kW / L (*2) high-output power density per unit volume. Prototypes are capable of 2,000 display screen updates, 360 consecutive flash firings and 35 location transmissions on a single charge. Furthermore, charge-discharge tests indicate that the batteries maintain 75% of their initial charge-discharge capacity after 500 cycles, equivalent to the performance of lithium-ion batteries for mobile phones.", but that doesn't help any applications I would do if the battery needs to be recharged even once a month with no usage.

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