01 July 2012

The spray-on battery

My thanks to Bryan of Why Now for spotting this story. The BBC has reported that researchers have demonstrated a means to spray-paint batteries onto any surface.  The batteries are made up of five separate layers, with a thickness of just 0.5mm in total.

To demonstrate the technique, the team painted batteries onto steel, glass, ceramic tile and even a beer stein. The approach will be of particular interest in industrial applications, as it is compatible with existing spray-painting technology.

The new work, from Rice University in Texas, US, opens up completely new avenues for putting batteries on nearly any surface in a simple and robust way.

Pulickel Ajayan and his colleagues chemically optimised the recipe for each of their five layers, using blends of chemicals common in lithium-ion batteries as well as novel materials including carbon nanotubes - tiny "straws" of carbon with incredible electronic properties.

For the process to work  all five layers must stick together and work in synchrony, and the tricky step was finding a separator material that kept the whole stack in one piece.When the team hit on using a chemical called poly-methylmethacrylate, they had a structure that would stick even to curved surfaces.

"This means traditional packaging for batteries has given way to a much more flexible approach that allows all kinds of new design and integration possibilities for storage devices," said Prof Ajayan.
"There has been a lot of interest in recent times in creating power sources with an improved form factor, and this is a big step forward in that direction."

Ah the wonders of science!


Kay Dennison said...


jams o donnell said...

It does have a wow factor doesn't it!

Steve Hayes said...

Isn't science marvellous. Just think of painting on your car battery. Though I suppose you'd need a respray if you wanted a new battery.

jams o donnell said...

That's true!

Dragonstar said...

This is fascinating. Wonder what effect it will have on those clever bunnies n the ads.

jams o donnell said...

They will keep on going until they get stomped on after irritating the life out of everyone!