High performance flexible battery invented

Nokia had previously shown “kinetic device”, a prototype with a flexible display the company showed at Nokia World 2011 in London. Many such concept devices have been seen till now, in fact Apple was awarded a patent today for an iPad cover encompassing a flexible touch-screen display. There are certain limitations on components such as flexible motherboard and batteries which are preventing such devices from becoming a reality. Flexible motherboards are one area on which scientists are still working hard, but in the case of batteries, they’ve found an answer. It may be soon possible for you to own a mobile phone which can be folded into half or rolled up in your pocket, as scientists have now invented a flexible battery technology.

Scientists from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology have invented a new flexible battery which can be twisted or bent, and this technology can enable future phones to be twisted or bent.

Battery technology is still in its infancy as of now. The capacity hasn’t increased much, but newer devices are consuming more energy. Current battery technology allows manufacture of highly inflexible batteries, and almost all phones use the same basic rectangular shape for battery packs.

Professor Keon Jae Lee’s team has developed something called ‘high-performance flexible all-solid-state battery’ which can retain its energy level even when folded, spindled, and or mildly mutilated. The trick is to print lithium ion batteries on a thin film, which explains its flexible nature. It’s good to see battery technology advancing.

“The technological advance of thin and light flexible display has encouraged the development of flexible batteries with a high power density and thermal stability,” the KAIST team said.
“Although rechargeable lithium-ion batteries have been regarded as a strong candidate for a high-performance flexible energy source, compliant electrodes for bendable LIBs are restricted to only a few materials, such as organic materials or micro-structured inorganic materials mixed with polymer binders,” the researchers were quoted as saying by the paper.

These batteries are claimed to be stable enough to power our phones while still remaining stable. Applying battery material to rollable displays has always been a big problem for manufacturers, but this technological breakthrough in battery technology can change the way we think about screens, surfaces and case materials. We may see phones and other devices such as tablets or e-book readers which can be folded in half.

Professor Lee said, “The advent of a high performance flexible thin film battery will accelerate the development of next-generation fully flexible electronic systems in combination with existing flexible components such as display, memory, and LED.”

Above is a video demonstrating thin film battery which is being bent over and over again without reducing voltage output. In the video, you can see the battery powering a blue LED, which never flickers even when the battery is twisted again and again. Professor Lee expects this technology to be part of “next-generation fully flexible electronic systems” but possibility of mass production was not discussed.

The technology seems encouraging, but again, it is in its infancy and powers only a LED, nevertheless more research will lead to it powering a smartphone someday. We have had flexing AMOLED and LCD screens for pretty long time now, and I can only imagine how cool would a flexible ebook reader be. Would you like to buy a tablet or phone which can fold up? What other usage of this technology can you think of? Let us know your thoughts using the comment form below.

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