Thursday, December 10, 2009

Need a Battery? Just Print One!

A new battery, small and thin, weighs almost nothing and can be printed in a process similar to silk-screening shirts.

Ultrathin electronic devices can be built using a special inkjet printer that squirts fine layers of complex compounds instead of ink. When the compounds dry, they leave behind sheer metallic films, which in the right combination could act as thermometers, light sensors, even computer chips.

"Our goal is to be able to mass produce the batteries at a price of single digit cent range each," said Andreas Willert, of the Fraunhofer Research Institution for Electronic Nano Systems ENAS, where Reinhard Baumann led the battery's development.

The battery weighs less than 1 gram and is less than 1 millimeter thick. It runs at 1.5 volts. Placing several in a row can produce up to 6 volts.

A standard AAA battery weighs about 11.5 grams and also runs at 1.5 volts.

The list of possible applications is endless — from bandages that release medication when they sense an increase in body temperature to wallpaper that changes color at the flick of a switch.




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