Batteries Built out of Paper

Researchers at Stanford University have used nanotechnology to create lightweight, bendable batteries out of paper .

The paper batteries are designed to be folded, crumpled or even soaked in an acidic solution and still work, according to Yi Cui, assistant professor of materials science and engineering at Stanford. The team created the batteries by coating a sheet of paper with ink made of carbon nanotubes and silver nanowires.

Stanford offered no indication of when the batteries might be ready for commercial use.

The striking aspect of the development is "how a simple thing in daily life -- paper -- can be used as a substrate to make functional conductive electrodes by a simple process," said Peidong Yang, professor of chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, in a statement.

The nanotubes used in the paper batteries and supercapacitors have a very small diameter, which enables the ink made from them to stick tightly to the paper. The university noted that the paper supercapacitors may be able to handle 40,000 charge-discharge cycles, which is an order of magnitude more than lithium batteries can withstand.

Cui pointed out that the nanomaterials make better conductors than traditional materials because they can move electricity more efficiently.

This is just the latest report of scientists using nanotechnology to further battery research.

In April, MIT researchers reported that they are combining nanotechnology with genetically engineered viruses to build batteries that could power hybrid cars and cell phones.

And before that, another Stanford research team used silicon nanowires to enable lithium-ion batteries to hold 10 times the charge they could before, according to Cui.

This version of this story originally appeared in Computerworld 's print edition. It's an edited version of an article that first ran on Computerworld.com.

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