New battery is spray-painted onto surfaces

June 28, 2012 at 3:21 PM

HOUSTON, June 28 (UPI) -- Researchers at Rice University in Houston say they've developed a lithium-ion rechargeable battery that can be painted onto virtually any surface.

The rechargeable battery consists of spray-painted layers each doing the job of a different component in a traditional battery, Rice material scientist Pulickel Ajayan said.

"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," he said in a Rice release Thursday.

"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."

The researchers formulated and tested paints for each of the five layered components -- two current collectors, a cathode, an anode and a polymer separator in the middle.

The hand-painted batteries were remarkably consistent in their capacities and were put through 60 charge-discharge cycles with only a very small drop in capacity, Rice researcher Neelam Singh said.

The batteries were easily charged with a small solar cell, she said, and combining them with recently developed paintable solar cells would create an excellent energy-harvesting combination.

"Spray painting is already an industrial process, so it would be very easy to incorporate this into industry," Singh said.

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