Researchers Present a Prototype of a Rechargeable and Flexible Zinc Battery

It is evident the way we think about batteries will come to change in the near future. New research indicates how it is possible to create rechargeable batteries by printing them. Moreover, these new batteries are quite flexible and capable of powering virtually any type of device one can think of. Even though the batteries are made of zinc, flexibility is not an issue whatsoever.

Printed and Flexible Zinc Batteries Are Coming

Developments in nanotechnology are always incredibly fascinating. Most people think of this industry as a way to enhance the human body or even improve healthcare. However, other scientists research nanotechnology from a different perspective. A team of engineers at the University of California, San Diego has created the world’s first printable and flexible rechargeable battery.

This is quite an amazing breakthrough, considering such a feat has never been possible before. Especially when considering how this battery provides both flexibility and a way to stretch the product at the same time. The applications for such a powerful tool are virtually limitless. It is even believed the battery can power anything ranging from solar cells to wearable sensors.

These new rechargeable batteries are so flexible thanks to the use of hyperelastic polymer material. As a result, the battery can stretch to twice its original size, without suffering from damage or reducing its capacity whatsoever. Moreover, the batteries are printed using ink made of zinc silver oxide. The rechargeable attribute is made possible thanks to the addition of bismuth oxide.

For now, the researchers have built a working prototype, which has a very small capacity. More specifically, it has 20% of the battery capacity of a hearing aid battery. However, it comes at 10% of the size, a much lower cost, and does not require difficult-to-obtain materials whatsoever. It also appears there is still some progress to be made regarding the capacity, which could yield some intriguing results.

To put this into perspective, it costs around US$0.50 to print one of these flexible batteries, compared to US$5 for printing a traditional rechargeable battery. Since these tools can be printed directly on fabric or materials found in wearables, they can be implemented in many different ways. The team has successfully daisy-chained these batteries in the form of a strip to power more power-hungry devices as well.

It is not hard to see why scientists are quite excited about this development. Although there are no plans to make this technology commercially viable anytime soon, the implications of what has been achieved should not be underestimated. This is another step toward making electronics more durable and cheaper, while not sacrificing quality or performance.

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