By Ryan Whitwam on November 13, 2013.
Electronics manufacturers have been demoing flexible and curved displays for years, but they’ve never made it into consumer products. The closest we’ve gotten are the new generation of curved AMOLED phones from LG and Samsung, but they’re only slightly bendable. After all, lithium-ion batteries don’t take well to being bent and folded — they actually get a little flammable if you do that — but this may change soon. A team at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) has developed a flexible battery for mobile devices using carbon nanotubes.
Both Samsung and LG have talked about the quest for a flexible battery. This is one of the main impediments holding back flexible displays. In all those technology demos, the super-futuristic folding screens are always connected to an external power source. The principal reasons the new curved phones announced by Samsung and LG are so large (6-inches and over) is because they have to accommodate flat batteries within that curved housing. The technology developed at NJIT could solve that problem and take us much further.
Instead of using an expensive electronic printing technique for flexible batteries, as some past proofs of concept have, the NJIT researchers adapted standard battery electrochemical architectures to flexible materials. The base of the battery is simply a flexible plastic, but the carbon nanotubes and other nanoparticles serve as active components in the battery. The cathode, anode, and even the electrolyte are composed of nanoparticles in a semi-solid paste.
This battery technology is extremely scalable too. The researchers claim that by changing the size of the pockets of cathode and anode material, the size of the cell can be easily modified. It could fit on the head of a pin, or be the size of the area run in your living room. This opens up a huge array of potential uses. Imagine Bluetooth earbuds with unobtrusive flexible batteries in the cords, or a large battery that you can roll up and toss in the trunk of an electric car in case you need an emergency charge.
The simple construction of these plastic-enclosed batteries could also allow regular consumers to build their own custom batteries with a DIY kit. All that would be needed is an electrode paste made from the proper nanoparticles with which to coat two plastic sheets. A plastic separator would be used to keep the cathode and anode separate, and the entire assembly would then be laminated or sealed in some way.
A patent has just been filed on the technology, and it’s not ready for commercial deployment yet. If it’s viable, you can bet Samsung or LG is going to come calling soon in order to bring it to market.
If you find it interesting, feel free to share and comment it’s easy and help me that more people can read it. Thank you very much.← Back