Rice University Scientists Develop Spray-On Battery

Posted Jun 29, 2012

Rice University scientists have developed a paint that can store and deliver electrical power similar to battery functionality. Lithium-ion batteries power most portable electronics. The scientists at Rice came up with a technique to break down each element of the traditional battery and incorporate it into a liquid, which can be spray-painted in layers on almost any surface.

“This means traditional packaging for batteries has given way to a much more flexible approach that allows all kinds of new design and integration possibilities for storage devices,” stated Pulickel Ajayan, the lead on the project.

The rechargeable battery is made with spray-painted layers with each that represent the component of a traditional battery.  There are two current collectors, a cathode, an anode, and polymer separator in the middle.  Paint layers are airbrushed onto ceramics, glass, and stainless steel.

The only limitation with the problem is the use of the difficult to handle liquid electrolytes and need for a dry and oxygen-free environment.  The scientists are currently looking for components that would allow for more open air to create a more efficient production process and higher commercial viability.

Another scientist working on the project, Neelam Singh believes that the technology can be integrated with solar cells to give any surface a stand-alone energy capture and storage capability.  The scientists tested the device with nine bathroom tiles coated with paint and connected to each other.  After they were charged, the batteries powered light-emitting diodes for 6 hours, providing a steady 2.4 volts.