Organic radical battery

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An organic radical battery (ORB) is a relatively new type of battery first developed in 2005. It uses an organic radical polymer, which is a flexible plastic, instead of metal to provide power. The polymer contains stable radicals, which give its unique properties, and takes the form of a gel saturated with electrolytes. Unlike traditional metal batteries, organic radical batteries are environmentally friendly and can be safely disposed of anywhere. A functional prototype of the battery has been researched and developed by Japanese corporation NEC.[1]


Organic radical batteries were first researched and developed by NEC in 2005 with the intent of being widely used to power tiny gadgets in the near future. They began with a size of 0.3 mm and an extremely quick charge time. Since the beginning of development, smart cards and RFID tags were the main targets for ORB usage.[2] More recently, NEC has been working on a larger 0.7 mm thin battery which is thicker, but also has a high charge capacity of 5 mAh.[3]


Organic radical batteries are composed of stable organic radical polymers, for example, poly(2,2,6,6-tetramethylpiperidinoxy-4-yl methacrylate).[4] The anode, which is the negative side of the battery, is made of the same carbon used in rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. The cathode of an ORB is highly conductive and created with a gel made of organic radical solids and carbon fibers, permeated with electrolytes.[1]


Organic radical batteries are characterized by an extremely thin profile (0.3 mm), flexibility, very fast charge time (about 30 seconds), as well as a relatively high energy density (1 mWh/cm2).[1] Their thin profile is designed to provide ease when integrating with circuit boards. In addition, the flexibility of the battery makes it more adaptable to different design constraints, such as curved devices. The battery also has a high retain of charge-discharge capacity, matching lithium-ion batteries at 75% of their initial charge after 500 cycles.[5] The short charge time on the battery also makes up for the small amount of energy that it can store. Most importantly, the technology is welcomed by environmentalists because ORBs do not contain any of the heavy metals that pose the problem of proper disposal. ORBs are completely non-toxic and non-flammable and do not require additional care when handling.[1]


The main disadvantage of organic radical batteries is that they have a much lower capacity than other competing battery types. The lower capacity is due to their sleek build which provides minimal storage space for energy. In addition to a lacking power capacity, the electrolyte solution also has the property of self-discharging due to the solubility of organic radical polymers. Although there is currently no alternative to prevent self-discharging since the solubility is what allows for spin coating, scientist Hiroyuki Nishide is actively working on a photocrosslinking method in an attempt to create a tougher polymer.[6]


Due to the extremely small and thin characteristics of ORBs, they are useful for improving a variety of small gadgets. One of the main gadgets for which ORBs are useful is the IC card. IC, or integrated circuit, cards are smart cards which have the ability to reflect data from a transmitter. Having an integrated battery will allow for advanced functions which could improve security, transmit data, and make displays possible.[7] However, all functions must have low power consumption, because the batteries have a mere 3 mAh capacity, which only allows for approximately 2,000 screen updates.[5] It has also been demonstrated that organic radical batteries are useful for keeping a computer running momentarily following a power outage. Although the amount of additional time provided is short, it is adequate to allow a computer to backup any crucial data before completely shutting down.[1]

In addition to being used for IC cards and computer backup, it has been speculated that organic radical batteries could be efficiently implemented in RFID tags. RFID tags are small microchips that are used for transferring data. They are most widely used as means of keeping track of products between manufacturing buildings, to warehouses, to retail outlets. Adding ORBs in these tags would allow for signal transfer at longer distances as well as give the tags the ability to transfer data itself.[8]


  1. ^ a b c d e "What is an Organic Radical Battery?". Conjecture Corporation. Retrieved 8 November 2012. 
  2. ^ Foley, Diane. "NEC Develops New Ultra-Thin, Flexible, Rechargeable Battery Boasting Super-Fast Charging Capability". NEC Corporation. Retrieved 5 November 2012. 
  3. ^ Jasper, Joseph. "NEC Develops Organic Radical Battery for Practical Use". NEC Corporation. Retrieved 6 November 2012. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b Foley, Diane. "NEC Develops New Ultra-Thin, Flexible, Rechargeable Battery Boasting Super-Fast Charging Capability". NEC Corporation. Retrieved 30 October 2012. 
  6. ^ Stoddart, Alison. "Flexible battery power". RSC Publishing. Retrieved 30 October 2012. 
  7. ^ Byford, Sam. "0.3mm thin 'organic radical battery' from NEC can be printed straight to IC cards". The Verge. Retrieved 6 November 2012. 
  8. ^ Sandhana, Lakshmi. "Gel battery boost for radio tags". BBC News. Retrieved 6 November 2012. 

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