Scientists design imprintable, flexible lithium-ion battery

Scientists from South Korea have developed the world’s first imprintable and flexible battery.

Essentially, the battery is a lithium-ion unit that is potentially flexible enough to help usher in an era of new electronic devices such as bendable smartphones. We’ve certainly seen a number of flexible displays showcased at various electronic events like CES, with one of the first being from Samsung all the way back in 2005. We also came across a flexible display designed by none other than Sharp last summer.

According to the South Korean scientists who developed the new flexible battery, their design uses nanomaterials applied to any given surface to create a fluid-like polymer electrolyte. In contrast, conventional batteries employ liquefied electrolytes. As expected, the new flexible battery manufactured with the polymer electrolyte solution is significantly more stable and less likely to overheat or catch fire than conventional batteries.

“Conventional lithium-ion batteries that use liquefied Electrolytes had problems with safety as the film that separates Electrolytes may melt under heat, in which case the positive and negative may come in contact, causing an explosion,” the scientists explained.

“Because the new battery uses flexible but solid materials, and not liquids, it can be expected to show a much higher level of stability than conventional rechargeable batteries.”

The research team responsible for developing the battery was led by Professor Lee Sang-young of South Korea’s Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology, with the help of 9 others from various institutes, including Prof. John A. Rogers of the University of Illinois.

The South Korean research was funded in part by the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology. A research paper on the topic was recently published in the Advanced Materials journal in an article titled “Imprintable, bendable and shape-conforming polymer electrolytes for versatile-shaped lithium-ion batteries.”