The battery can be used in flexible, stretchable electronics for wearables as well as soft robotics.
The flexible, rechargeable, silver oxide-zinc battery is easy to manufacture; while most flexible batteries need to be manufactured in sterile conditions under vacuum, this one can be screen-printed in normal lab conditions. The areal capacity is 50 milliamps per square centimeter at room temperature — 10 to 20 times greater than the areal capacity of a typical lithium-ion battery. The battery has higher capacity than flexible batteries currently available on the market due to lower impedance — the resistance of an electric circuit or device to alternative current. By testing various solvents and binders, an ink formulation was developed that makes silver oxide-zinc viable for printing. As a result, the battery can be printed in only a few seconds once the inks are prepared; it is dry and ready to use in just minutes. The battery could also be printed in a roll-to-roll process, which would increase the speed and make manufacturing scalable. The batteries are printed onto a polymer film that is chemically stable, elastic, and has a high melting point that can be heat-sealed.
University of California, San Diego and ZPower, Camarillo, CA
As the 5G and Internet of Things (IoT) markets grow rapidly, a battery that outperforms commercial products in high-current wireless devices will likely be a main contender as the next-generation power source for consumer electronics.
The team is working on the next generation of the battery, aiming for cheaper, faster-charging devices with even lower impedance that would be used in 5G devices and soft robotics that require high power and customizable and flexible form factors.