A paper battery is an ultra-thin[vague] electric battery engineered to use a spacer formed largely of cellulose (the major constituent of paper). It incorporates nanoscale structures to act as high surface-area electrodes to improve the conduction of electricity.
In addition to being ultra-thin, paper batteries are flexible and environmentally-friendly, allowing integration into a wide range of products. Their functioning is similar to conventional chemical batteries with the important difference that they are non-corrosive and do not require a bulky housing.
The creation of this nanocomposite paper drew from a diverse pool of disciplines, requiring expertise in materials science, energy storage, and chemistry. In August 2007, a research team (led by: Drs. Robert Linhardt; Pulickel Ajayan; and Omkaram Nalamasu) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute developed the paper battery.
Victor Pushparaj, along with Shaijumon M. Manikoth, Ashavani Kumar, and Saravanababu Murugesan, were co-authors and lead researchers of the project. Other co-authors include Lijie Ci and Robert Vajtai.
This cellulose based spacer is compatible with many possible electrolytes. Researchers used ionic liquid, essentially a liquid salt, as the battery’s electrolyte, as well as naturally occurring electrolytes such as human sweat, blood, and urine. Use of an ionic liquid, containing no water, would mean that there would nothing in the batteries to freeze or evaporate, potentially allowing operation in extreme temperatures.
Naturally occurring electrolytes might allow more biocompatible batteries.
Paper batteries were described by a researcher as “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.”
Paper batteries are alleged to look, feel and weigh the same as ordinary paper[vague] because its “components are molecularly attached to each other: the carbon nanotubes print is embedded in the paper, and the electrolyte is soaked into the paper.”
The paper-like quality of the battery combined with the structure of the nanotubes embedded within gives them their light weight and low cost, making them ideal for portable electronics, aircraft, automobiles, and toys (such as model aircraft), while their ability to use electrolytes in the blood make them potentially useful for medical devices such as pacemakers, medical diagnostic equipment, and drug delivery transdermal patches. A German healthcare company called KSW Microtech is already using the battery to power monitoring of the temperature of blood supplies.
However, Professor Sperling cautions that commercial applications may be a long way away, because nanotubes are still relatively expensive to fabricate. Currently, devices a few inches in size are being produced. In order to be commercially viable, newspaper-size devices must be produced, as a paper battery of such a size would be powerful enough to power a car.
- Katherine Noyes. "Nanotubes Power Paper-Thin Battery". TechNewsWorld. Retrieved 2010-10-29.
- "Beyond Batteries: Storing Power in a Sheet of Paper". Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. 13 August 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-15.
- Pushparaj, Victor L.; Manikoth, Shaijumon M.; Kumar, Ashavani; Murugesan, Saravanababu; Ci, Lijie; Vajtai, Robert; Linhardt, Robert J.; Nalamasu, Omkaram; Ajayan, Pulickel M.. "Flexible Nanocomposite Thin Film Energy Storage Devices". Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA 104, 13574-13577, 2007. Retrieved 2010-08-08.
- "Paper battery offers future power". BBC News. 14 August 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-15.
- Printable Battery Rolls Off the Presses Retrieved May 22, 2006.