We seem to live in the land of batteries. Let’s check out some new residents. Today, on Engineering Works!
We live surrounded by our electronic devices. Smart phone. Laptop. TV remote control. Music player. Each of them needs a battery. And each of those batteries is different. Some are cylinders. Some are shiny discs. Others are rectangular.
Now, engineers have some up with still another battery. And it may help make our electronics even smaller than they are. These new batteries are flat like a piece of paper.
In fact, a company in Florida has a pilot production line that prints lithium-ion batteries, the same thing that runs your phone, on sheets of plastic. Or metal. Just like printing a newspaper.
Getting this to work is a pretty good trick, because the electrolyte, the stuff that actually produces electricity in a lithium-ion battery, is usually a gel. Printing a gel that has to stay semi-liquid to work onto something else doesn’t work very well. Solid lithium-ion electrolytes do exist, but it’s expensive and tricky to make them.
For these batteries, the engineers developed a ceramic electrolyte that can be printed onto flexible sheets at the same time as the metallic terminals. When the sheets of batteries come out of the press they can be cut up into individual batteries and wired into battery packs to provide different amounts of power.
Our batteries are charged and we’re ready to go. See you next time.
Engineering Works! is made possible by Texas A&M Engineering and produced by KAMU-FM in College Station. Learn more about engineering. Visit us on the World Wide Web.
Start the discussion: Really flat batteries should do a lot to keep shrinking electronic devices. Flip over your laptop and see how much space the battery takes up. Sounds neat to us: what do you think?