Need battery power? Just print it out
August 31, 2009
"A printable battery may soon hit the street in a cost-effective, but large scale.
The characteristics of the battery differ significantly from those of conventional batteries. This printable version weighs less than one gram on the scales, is not even 1 millimeter thick and can therefore integrate into things like bank cards.
A small, thin battery comes out of the printer.
The battery contains no mercury and is in this respect environmentally friendly. Its voltage is 1.5 V, which lies within the normal range. By placing several batteries in a row, researchers can achieve voltages of 3 V, 4.5 V, and 6 V.
The new type of battery consists of different layers: a zinc anode and a manganese cathode, among others. Zinc and manganese react with one another and produce electricity. However, the anode and the cathode layer dissipate gradually during this chemical process. Therefore, the battery is suitable for applications that have a limited life span or a limited power requirement, for instance greeting cards.
A research team led by Prof. Dr. Reinhard Baumann of the Fraunhofer Research Institution for Electronic Nano Systems (ENAS) in Chemnitz developed the battery together with colleagues from TU Chemnitz and Menippos GmbH.
“Our goal is to be able to mass produce the batteries at a price of single digit cent range each,” said Dr. Andreas Willert, group manager at ENAS.
Researchers print the batteries using a silk-screen printing method similar to that used for t-shirts and signs. A kind of rubber lip presses the printing paste through a screen onto the substrate. A template covers the non-printing areas. Through this process, it is possible to apply comparatively large quantities of printing paste, and the individual layers are slightly thicker than a hair. The researchers have already produced the batteries on a laboratory scale. At the end of this year, the first products could be ready to go."