A battery that can be spray painted? That certainly sounds like quite the novel idea, and it has been implemented by researchers over at Rice University, allowing virtually any object to be converted into an electricity storage device. This particular lithium ion battery can be applied in layers, where each of them is an aerosol paint, paving the way to possible solar-energy applications. The researchers in the team are Charudatta Galande, Pulickel Ajayan and Neelam Singh, where they have displayed a test device for their paintable batteries which in reality is a grid of nine ceramic tiles that has been merged with a solar cell and an LED array.
This is definitely groundbreaking research, where this particular technique might just alter the way batteries are produced, doing away with restrictions on the surfaces used for energy storage. This paint-on battery works like just about all lithium ion batteries, where it comprises of five layers. These five layers are a positive current collector, a cathode which will attract positively charged ions, an ion-conducting separator, an anode to attract negative ions, and a negative current collector. Individual layers have their challenges, which was to figure out a way to mix the electrically conductive material alongside different polymers in order to create a paint which could be sprayed onto surfaces.
These are still some way off from being commercially ready, as there are plenty of obstacles in its way. The electrolyte separator layer has yet to be oxygen stable, possibly resulting in an explosion if it came into contact with air. Hence, special conditions are required when the battery is to be created. Hopefully, the team will make all the materials less reactive to air and moisture, and even more importantly, to be more environmentally friendly.