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.