Jun 19 2013, 2:32am CDT | by Luigi Lugmayr
The printed microbatteries could supply electricity to tiny devices in fields from medicine to communications, including many that have lingered on lab benches for lack of a battery small enough to power them, according to a research team from the Wyss Institute at Harvard University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
"Not only did we demonstrate for the first time that we can 3D- print a battery, we demonstrated it in the most rigorous way," senior author Jennifer Lewis of the Harvard University said in a statement.
To make the microbatteries, the team had to print precisely interlaced stacks of tiny battery electrodes, each less than the width of a human hair, reported Xinhua.
The researchers first created and tested several specialized inks. Unlike the ink in an office inkjet printer, which comes out as droplets of liquid that wet the page, the inks developed for extrusion-based 3D printing must fulfil two difficult requirements: they must exit fine nozzles like toothpaste from a tube and must immediately harden into their final form.
The inks also had to function as electrochemically active materials to create working anodes and cathodes, and they had to harden into layers that are as narrow as those
produced by thin-film manufacturing methods.
In the end, the researchers created an ink for the anode with nanoparticles of one lithium metal oxide compound, and an ink for the cathode from nanoparticles of another.
The printer deposited the two inks onto the teeth of two gold combs, creating a tightly interlaced stack of anodes and cathodes. Then the researchers packaged the electrodes into a tiny container and filled it with an electrolyte solution to complete the battery.
The findings were published online in the journal Advanced Materials.
Luigi is the founding Chief Editor of I4U News and brings over 15 years experience in the technology field to the ever evolving and exciting world of gadgets. He started I4U News back in 2000 and evolved it into vibrant technology magazine.
Luigi can be contacted directly at email@example.com. Luigi posts regularly on LuigiMe.com about his experience running I4U.
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