Who

The battery can be used in flexible, stretchable electronics for wearables as well as soft robotics.

What

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.

The areal capacity for the battery is 50 milliamps per square centimeter at room temperature — 10 to 20 times greater than the areal capacity of a typical lithium-ion battery. For the same surface area, the battery can provide 5 to 10 times more power. (University of California San Diego)

Where

University of California, San Diego and ZPower, Camarillo, CA

Why

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.

When

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.

Contact Ioana Patringenaru of UC San Diego at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; 858-822-0899


Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the February, 2021 issue of Tech Briefs Magazine.

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