We associate batteries with big, bulky items that always fail us when we need them most; and in the case of iPhone users, a legendary element that is never seen! But what if you could get a battery that was thinner than a millimetre, lighter than a gram and could be simply printed to produce?
A team of scientists led by Prof. Dr. Reinhard Baumann over at Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute have come up with just such a battery, which is significantly different from regular batteries not just due to its shape and size.
For starters, the battery is environmentally friendly as it contains no mercury, instead relying on layers of zinc anode and manganese cathode.
The normal voltage of the battery is about 1.5V, but by lining up several of these tiny batteries together, voltages of up to 6 V can be achieved. To put it into perspective, 6 volts of electricity is the same amount that you would get from
32 4 AA batteries.
The batteries are “printed” using a method similar to how rubber signs are painted on t-shirts: a rubber lip presses a printing paste through a screen onto the substrate. Each layer is slightly thicker than a hair.
The life of each of these batteries is limited, so the researchers envision many uses such as lighting up clothes at night, greeting cards, etc.
At the end of this year, the first products could possibly be finished.
The small, thin battery comes out of the printer and can be applied to flexible substrates.