Spray Paint Battery Could Turn Any Surface Into Power Storage

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Researchers at Rice University have developed a battery that can be spray-painted. The lithium-ion battery can be painted onto nearly any surface, and is rechargeable. The battery is spray-painted in layers, with each layer representing a part of a traditional battery. The study of this technology has been published today in Nature's online journal Scientific Reports.

“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,” said Pulickel Ajayan, professor in mechanical engineering, materials science, and chemistry at Rice. “There has been 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 spray-on battery is applied in five layers: two current collectors, a cathode, an anode, and a polymer separator. The researchers have already painted the battery onto ceramic tiles, flexible polymers, glass, stainless steel, and a beer stein. Small solar cells have so far been used to charge the batteries.

Neelam Singh, Rice graduate student and lead author of the study, stated that she envisions the spray-paint battery being used with the recently announced paintable solar cells. She imagines coating the exterior of a house with this type of combination, making solar energy more prevalent and affordable. “Spray painting is already an industrial process, so it would be very easy to incorporate this into industry,” Singh said. “We really do consider this a paradigm changer.”

Take a look at the video below to see Singh and other researchers demonstrate their patent-pending paintable battery:

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