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Coming Soon: Silk-Screened Batteries

Tue, 07/14/2009 - 10:36am
by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor

EZ header Microchip 

Jason_Pic130Who knew those shady vendors hawking silk-screened t-shirts at tourist traps were leading the tech revolution? Actually, that claim belongs to the Fraunhofer Research Institution, but who’s keeping track? The German institute has developed a printable battery that is produced using a silk-screening process similar to that used in t-shirts.

Composed of different layers, including a zinc anode and a manganese cathode zinc, the P-battery produces 1.5 V. Weighing less than one gram, and less than one millimeter thick, the new battery makes the diminutive Quad A seem like a giant. According to Fraunhofer’s site, “By placing several batteries in a row, voltages of 3 V, 4.5 V, and 6 V can also be achieved.” Unfortunately, the P-battery’s miniscule size carries a steep price: a short life span. Says Fraunhofer, “the anode and the The P-battery from Fraunhofercathode layer dissipate gradually during this chemical process. Therefore, the battery is suitable for applications which have a limited life span or a limited power requirement…”

For real-world application, Fraunhofer recommends greeting cards and ATM cards. The P-battery would be a natural fit for greeting cards, but bank cards are more problematic. Fraunhofer presents a hypothetical scenario where the battery could enable storage of the TAN (Transaction authentication number) in one’s bank card. The problem is that the P-battery has a limited lifespan, and most people won’t be bothered to swap it out. The obvious application is in electronic t-shirts and similar devices. At least that, *ahem*, audience (take note of the website I link to) would be diligent in changing the battery. Unfortunately, this is a very limited application. The last time I spotted one of these kooky shirts was at a video game music concert (yes, you read that right).

Fraunhofer is aiming to mass-produce these batteries for less than 10 cents each. The P-battery should be available by the end of the year.

Do you agree? Disagree? Think my brain needs a battery change? Leave a comment below or e-mail me directly.

Note: The preceding represents the view of the editor and not necessarily ECN.

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