Nanotube ink turns paper into batteries

By Janelle Weaver — Stanford scientists are harnessing nanotechnology to quickly produce ultra-lightweight, bendable batteries and supercapacitors in the form of everyday paper.

Simply coating a sheet of paper with ink made of carbon nanotubes and silver nanowires makes a highly conductive storage device, said Yi Cui, assistant professor of materials science and engineering.

"These nanomaterials are special," Cui said. "They're a one-dimensional structure with very small diameters." The small diameter helps the nanomaterial ink stick strongly to the fibrous paper, making the battery and supercapacitor very durable. The paper supercapacitor may last through 40,000 charge-discharge cycles – at least an order of magnitude more than lithium batteries. The nanomaterials also make ideal conductors because they move electricity along much more efficiently than ordinary conductors, Cui said.

"Society really needs a low-cost, high-performance energy storage device, such as batteries and simple supercapacitors," he said.

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