The Printable Zinc-Metal Oxide Rechargeable Battery provides a micro-power source for devices smaller than one square centimeter. And, since a tiny power source can’t be switched out like a spent flashlight battery, it’s fabricated and built into a micro-device in one novel process.
Researchers with i4Energy developed the zinc battery with a gel electrolyte. Using a dispenser printer, a precise tool used in electronics fabrication, they imprint layers of the ink-like battery material onto a device to create the built-in battery. The innovative fabrication process is well-suited to manufacturing — fast and scalable, with little wasted material.
The battery has a nominal voltage of 1.2 to 1.5 volts and can be operated between 0.9 and 1.8 volts. The unique properties of the gel electrolyte produce a battery that does not require rigorous hermetic packaging, greatly simplifying processing and reducing overall costs.
This micro-power breakthrough enables and accelerates a wide range of wireless devices used in energy applications, from monitoring energy use in buildings to inspecting natural gas pipelines. Their utility extends to powering autonomous wireless devices known as “smart dust,” MEMS (micro-electromechanical systems) sensors and actuators, portable electronics, radio-frequency identification tags, and medical devices, both for implant and external use.