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A paper battery is an 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 conductivitiy.
In addition to being unusually 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 extensive housing.
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 the batteries would not freeze or evaporate, potentially allowing operation in extreme temperatures.
Naturally occurring electrolytes might allow biocompatible batteries for use on or within living bodies. 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.”
The paper-like quality of the battery combined with the structure of the nanotubes embedded within gives them light weight and low cost, offering potential for portable electronics, aircraft, automobiles and toys (such as model aircraft).
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. German healthcare company KSW Microtech is using the material to power blood supply temperature monitoring.
The batteries employ nanotubes, potentially slowing commercial adoption due to excessive cost. Commercial adtopion also requires larger devices. E.g., a newspaper-sized device could be powerful enough to power a car.
- Pushparaj, Victor L.; Shaijumon, Manikoth M.; Kumar, Ashavani; Murugesan, Saravanababu; Ci, Lijie; Vajtai, Robert et al. (August 2007). "Flexible energy storage devices based on nanocomposite paper". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 104 (34): 13575–7. doi:10.1073/pnas.0706508104. PMC 1959422. PMID 17699622. Retrieved 23 July 2014.
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