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Paper batteries: Fact or fiction?

20 May 2014  | Steve Taranovich

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As a bonus, this design is an environmentally friendly product: Ultracapacitor technology uses electrodes composed of high surface area activated carbon, carbon nanotubes or graphene. Paper or other porous polymer separators hold the electrolyte and separate the electrodes. Current collectors, usually aluminium foil, attach to the electrodes and carry the charges in and out. The PowerPatch products do not have the often-toxic heavy metals typically found in batteries and are RoHS compliant.

Reducing voltage droop

PowerPatch Gen2 can significantly decrease voltage droop in a really small space.

Paper conforms to complex shapes

Figure 2: The top graph is conventional battery with a Paper Battery Company supercapacitor. The bottom graph shows significant droop with the conventional battery alone in a GSM handset radio.

Figure 3: Conventional batteries would have a hard time fitting into complex footprints. A thinner battery means a lighter, thinner external product design.

Figure 4: New product design paradigms are enabled. A battery/supercap can now surround a PC board for minimum volume in a product. This now easily enables distributed capacitances. This design can now reduce PCB voltage variations across and remove many PCB components, while providing peak power pulse to one or more load. The flexibility in choosing form factors allows irregular shapes while still providing superior thermal and RFI benefits.

Hidden advantages
Slim form factor make PowerPatch excellent for spreading and shielding heat. PowerPatch is architected to be EMI "quieter" and to serve as an RFI shield.

Applications made possible with this technology:

Capacitive Touch Screens3 Noise (EMI) is the number 1 issues for capacitive touch screens and the PowerPatch can not only act as a shield but also provide for LED Driver voltage stability.

Camera flashes – Most phone cameras with greater 1.3MP require strong flashes for images and bright torches for movies in lower lighting conditions. The intensity of the flash directly and indirectly affects the image quality3. Power pulses to the flash require high energy and very low ESR.

Smart Watches– Currently, Smartwatches, while novel, offer limited functionality as a tethered device to a Smartphone or Tablet. Evolution of functions will require better power sources to extend range and increase data rates.

Small and battery-powered woofer and subwoofer sound systems – For the best sound, transient power demands must be accommodated with as little change as possible in the power supply voltage, essentially as changes in current demand only. Supercapacitors with high energy density and low ESR will increase performance. Thin form factor enables them to fit in the industrial design of the final product or bass-producing sub-system.

Personal audio amplifiers and medical hearing systems – Integration of Bluetooth and other wireless radio technologies for streaming directly into the device. RFI and Tru-Tone Hearing Aid Centres (THAC) issues.

LED drivers – Voltage stability, boost efficiency, thermal and RFI benefits, plus cost and size advantages.

The future
Future growth will be driven by scale production to large format performance laminates, energy wraps as structural elements, like solar energy array backplanes to hybrid vehicle panels.

PowerPatch can be implemented with multiple outputs, and in the future, multiple voltages. These advantages allow PowerPatch to make power connections adjacent to multiple loads for the lowest possible ESR. PowerPatch can be used to multiply or divide voltages to feed directly to load, or as an input to or storage from voltage converters.

In the future, PowerPatch will have the ability to mount components directly onto the PowerPatch. Examples might include components for voltage regulation, switches and control, as well RFIDs.

1 Self-Rechargeable Paper Thin-Film Batteries: Performance and Applications, Isabel Ferreira, Bruno Brás, Nuno Correia, Pedro Barquinha, Elvira Fortunato, and Rodrigo Martins, Journal of Display Technology, Vol. 6, No. 8, August 2010
2 Paper-Based Lithium-Ion Batteries Using Carbon Nanotube-Coated Wood Microfibres, Nojan Aliahmad, Student Member, IEEE, Mangilal Agarwal, Member, IEEE, Sudhir Shrestha, Member, IEEE, and Kody Varahramyan, Senior Member, IEEE, IEEE Transactions on Nanotechnology, Vol. 12, No. 3, May 2013.
3 Avoiding EMI in capacitive touch screens.

About the author
Steve Taranovich is a senior technical editor at EDN with 41 years of experience in the electronics industry. Steve received his MSEE from Polytechnic University, Brooklyn, New York, and his BEEE from New York University, Bronx, New York. He is also chairman of the Educational Activities Committee for IEEE Long Island. His expertise is in analogue, RF and power management with a diverse embedded processing education as it relates to analogue design from his years at Burr-Brown and Texas Instruments. Steve was a circuit design engineer for his first 16 years in electronics. He then served as one of the first field application engineers with Burr-Brown Corp and also became one of their first global account managers, traveling to Europe, India and China.

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