In a new development, scientists at the Nanyang Technological University have developed biodegradable batteries that are paper thin, and could someday become an environmentally sustainable alternative to power flexible and wearable electronics.
The zinc batteries developed by the team at NTU are composed of electrodes that are screen printed on both sides of cellulose paper that has been reinforced with hydrogel. Once the battery is exhausted it can be buried in soil, where it disintegrates completely within a month.
A PoC experiment appears in the scientific journal Advanced Science. It demonstrates how a 4cm by 4cm square of printed paper battery could provide electrical energy for a small electric fan for minimum 45 minutes. The bending or twisting of the battery did not interrupt power supply.
Meanwhile, another experiment that uses a 4cm by 4 cm battery to provide electrical energy for LED, scientists showed that despite truncating parts of the paper battery, the LED remained lit to prove that cutting does not have an impact on the functionality of the battery.
The printed battery could be combined with flexible electronic devices such as foldable smart phones that are currently available, or into biomedical sensors for health monitoring, opine scientists.
Traditional batteries are available in a number of models and sizes, and selecting the right one for a device could be cumbersome. The study demonstrates a simpler, and cheaper way to manufacture batteries by developing a large piece of battery. The resultant battery can be cut into required shapes and sizes without loss of functional capacity. Featuring this, the paper batteries are ideal for integration in types of flexible electronics that are slowly being developed.