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Flexible Li-ion battery charges wirelessly

25 Mar 2015

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Korean researchers found a way to produce a flexible lithium ion battery that is thinner than a credit card and can be charged wirelessly. Professor Jang Wook Choi at KAIST's Graduate School of Energy, Environment, Water, and Sustainability (EEWS) and Dr. Jae Yong Song at the Korea Research Institute of Standards and Science published their findings online in Nano Letters on March 6, 2015.

Lithium ion batteries are widely used today in various electronics including mobile devices and electronic cars. Researchers said their study could help accelerate the development of flexible and wearable electronics.

Conventionally, lithium ion batteries are manufactured based on a layering technology, stacking up anode, separating films and cathode like a sandwich, therefore, difficult to reduce their thickness. In addition, frictions between layers make the batteries impossible to bend, and the easily removed films coding the electrodes contribute to the batteries' poor performance.

The research team abandoned the existing production technology. Instead, they removed separating films, layered the cathode and anode collinearly on a plane, and created a partition between electrodes to eliminate potential problems, such as short circuits and voltage dip, commonly present in lithium ion batteries.

After more than 5,000 consecutive flexing experiments, the research team confirmed the possibility of a more flexible electrode structure while maintaining the battery performance comparable to the level of current lithium ion batteries.

Flexible Li-ion battery

Medical patch (left) and flexible secondary battery (right)

Flexible batteries can be applied to integrated smart cards, cosmetic and medical patches, and skin adhesive sensors that can control a computer with voice or gesture as seen in a movie "Iron Man."

Moreover, the team has successfully developed wireless charging technology using electromagnetic induction and solar battery.

They are currently developing a mass production process to combine this planar battery technology and printing, to ultimately create a new paradigm to print semiconductors and batteries using 3D printers.

Diagram of flexible battery

Diagram of flexible battery

Professor Choi said, "This new technology will contribute to diversifying patch functions as it is applicable to power various adhesive medical patches."




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