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Rensselaer Research Review Spring 2007 * Feature Articles Awards & Grants Recent Patents Accolades
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* Paper Battery
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Plenty of Advantages

The device can be rolled, twisted, folded, or cut into any number of shapes with no loss of mechanical integrity or efficiency. The paper batteries can also be stacked, like a ream of printer paper, to boost the total power output.

Along with use in small handheld electronics, the paper batteries’ light weight could make them ideal for use in automobiles, aircraft, and even boats. The paper also could be molded into different shapes, such as a car door, which would enable important new engineering innovations.

“Plus, because of the high paper content and lack of toxic chemicals, it’s environmentally safe,” Shaijumon said.

Paper is also extremely biocompatible and these new hybrid battery/supercapacitors have potential as power supplies for devices implanted in the body. The team printed paper batteries without adding any electrolytes, and demonstrated that naturally occurring electrolytes in human sweat, blood, and urine can be used to activate the battery device.

“It’s a way to power a small device such as a pacemaker without introducing any harsh chemicals — such as the kind that are typically found in batteries — into the body,” Pushparaj said.

And because the battery’s electrolyte is ionic liquid, essentially a liquid salt that contains no water, there’s nothing in the batteries to freeze or evaporate. “This lack of water allows the paper energy storage devices to withstand extreme temperatures,” Kumar said.

Going Forward

The materials required to create the paper batteries are inexpensive, Murugesan said, but the team has not yet developed a way to inexpensively mass produce the devices. The end goal is to print the paper using a roll-to-roll system similar to how newspapers are printed.

“When we get this technology down, we’ll basically have the ability to print batteries and print supercapacitors,” Ajayan said. “We see this as a technology that’s just right for the current energy market, as well as the electronics industry, which is always looking for smaller, lighter power sources. Our device could make its way into any number of different applications.”

The team of researchers has already filed a patent protecting the invention. They are now working on ways to boost the efficiency of the batteries and supercapacitors, and investigating different manufacturing techniques.

"Energy storage is an area that can be addressed by nanomanufacturing technologies and our truly interdisciplinary collaborative activity that brings together advances and expertise in nanotechnology, room-temperature ionic liquids, and energy storage devices in a creative way to devise novel battery and supercapacitor devices," Nalamasu said.

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