New Flexible Biodegradable Battery Invented


ars technica reports on the invention of a paper thin flexible biodegradable battery.

Researchers from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and MIT have developed a new material that eliminates the need for a multilayer battery. They grew carbon nanotubes on a silicon substrate and impregnated the gaps between the tubes with cellulose—that’s right, plain old paper. The cellulose also covered the ends of the nanotubes, but once it had dried, the paper material could be peeled off of the silicon substrate, leaving one end of the carbon nanotubes exposed to form an electrode.

By putting two sheets of paper together with the cellulose side facing inwards (and a drop of electrolyte on the paper), a supercapacitor is formed. These supercapacitors retain the flexibility of normal paper, but they have a rating that is comparable to that of standard commercial hardware.
By putting a drop of electrolyte on a single sheet and then putting a metal foil consisting of lithium and aluminum on each side, a lithium ion battery is formed. Researchers indicate that small prototypes could already power small mechanical devices like fans. These batteries operate over a wide range of temperatures, with the research showing that they can operate between -78–150°.

Potential Medical Applications:  Its been reported that bodily fluids can act as the electrolyte. The capacitor would be put into a patient fully charged but dry, and when more power was needed, bodily fluids would be allowed into the device to allow it to discharge.

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