Researchers at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) have developed a fully scalable, flexible battery that could prove key to making folding tablets and roll-up smartphones a reality.
The first flexible display smartphones might already be on the market but neither Samsung's Galaxy Round or LG's G-Flex can actually be folded in half for easier storage, no matter how responsive or robust their screens.
This is because while high-definition flexible display technology is already a reality -- and is the reason why as well as concave smartphones, curved screen TVs have started appearing in consumers' living rooms -- batteries are on the whole rigid and forcing them to ‘flex' as it were could lead to a fire or even an explosion.
Some progress has been made in increasing their bendability while keeping their electrolytes separated and contained and in January, a group of Korean scientists at the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology announced that they had successfully built flexible lithium ion rechargeable batteries. However they use a liquid like polymer and scaling production would prove complex.
By using carbon nanotubes and micro particles as active battery components, the NJIT team, led by professor Somenath Mitra, may have solved the problem not only of rigidity, but of scalability and manufacturing. In an interview published on NJIT's website, Mitra explains that: "This battery can be made as small as a pinhead or as large as a carpet in your living room. So its applications are endless. You can place a rolled-up battery in the trunk of your electric car and have it power the vehicle."
However, what makes the battery so exciting and potentially revolutionary is that it could actually be made at home by the average consumer with a simple kit consisting of an electrode paste and a laminating machine. The resulting DIY battery would have the same performance of a double-A or triple-A battery, meaning that as long as a house is stocked up on supplies, the TV remote control will always be in full working order.
Unsurprisingly, the researchers have already filed a patent for their battery and have high hopes of its potential uses.